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    This is the personal blog of Simon Kendrick and covers my interests in media, technology and popular culture. All opinions expressed are my own and may not be representative of past or present employers
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New data and trends from the iTunes store

The release of iOS 2.0 in July 2008 is arguably the defining moment of the smartphone era, contributing (along with 3G connectivity) to the iPhone moving from a good if limited device to the archetype that, even 5 years later, all other mobiles are striving to first replicate and then improve upon.

The App store has been a major success for Apple, with Horace Dediu estimating that they produce $1.6bn in revenue per quarter. We are approaching the occasion of the 50 billionth worldwide app download, and to coincide Apple have updated their all-time charts for a number of territories.

They previously did this on the occasion of the 25 billionth app download, in March of last year. 25 billion apps downloaded in 14 months equates to an average of around 60m downloads a day (with Horace Dediu putting the current daily rate at around 70m).

Last time I took a look at some of the trends within the charts. I’ve repeated that here, with ten bullets below. All data correct (apart from any typos that slipped through) as of May 2nd 2013.

  • Stability: The majority of the top apps are holdovers from the previous list – 13 of the 50 paid apps are new, and 20 of the 50 free apps. I’ve counted YouTube and Google Maps as new apps, although different builds did exist previously
  • Games still dominate: 17 of the top 25 paid apps on both iPhone and iPad are games
  • But What’s App stands alone: What’s App is the most popular paid for iPhone app, and is the only paid-for social networking app fits in the list. Although existing downloads won’t be discounted, it will be interesting to see whether the mooted 69p a year fee will deter new users from downloading
  • Franchises have emerged: Although there are exceptions, many of the top apps are from major companies and even those grassroots successes – Angry Birds, Draw Something – have been sucked up into either major merchandising and sequelitis, or bought out. Angry Birds is the poster-child for success, and Angry Birds Rio is the only title of theirs not to make the chart
  • But it is still possible to break through: 4 Pics 1 Word has become this year’s Draw Something, and has made both the top iPad and iPhone free charts despite being out for less than 3 months
  • Price homogeneity: The rise of in-app purchases as a legitimate – if controversial – revenue generator means that prices have dropped to around the 69p mark. Electronic Arts have heavily discounted their titles, including FIFA 13, to raise the user base and drive in-app purchases
  • Few five star games: Inevitably, scale can lead to hype and disappointment and so only 3 of the 100 apps featured have 5 star ratings – Cut the Rope and Plants vs Zombies in iPhone, and The Room on iPad
  • Free entertainment apps lag in score: Free music and entertainment apps score relatively lowly – with the exception of TV Catchup, the highest score is 3.5. YouTube trails with a score of 2, presumably due to complaints that the previous pre-installed app was removed (at Apple’s behest)
  • Device differences remain: 12 free apps and 9 paid apps appear in both iPad and iPhone lists, but the differences point to how the devices remain distinct. The iPhone is a personal device used on the go for timely information; the iPad is a lean-back device, that can also be used for creation
  • The future: How will the list differ when the next milestone (100 billion?) is reached? Will we see Vine or Snapchat enter the free charts? Will the next wave of franchise games prove more popular than the last? Will the TV companion app to beat all other companion apps truly emerge? I’m going to chicken out of making any predictions, but any or all of the above could happen

Pictures of the charts are below, and can be clicked on to expand into a more readable version.

iphone paid ipad free ipad paid iphone free

sk

Data and trends from the iTunes store

To tie in with their 25 billionth app download (made by Chunli Fu of Qingdao, China), Apple have released the top 25 rankings for their paid and free apps within the UK iTunes App Store. Some interesting (and in some cases unexpected) things have emerged.

Data below is correct as of March 6th. Where apps are universal (ie they can be downloaded on both iPhones/iPods and iPads), I have included their reviews and rating within the iPhone charts as iPad cannot be split out (and the disparity in installed bases means it is safe to assume that the majority of actions relate to iPhones). Apple don’t release download figures, but news stories such as this one can help establish some benchmarks for estimates.

Click the images or open them in a new tab in order to make them more legible.

So what can we tell from these charts?

  • Games dominate the paid-for charts: 42 of the 50 paid apps are games, but it doesn’t dominate the free charts to the same extent – although people pay for games, they are transitory and can be superseded by sequels or alternatives – unlike information-based apps
  • Games are much better at encouraging ratings/reviews: Games have three times as many reviews/ratings as non-games: Demographics might play a factor (younger game players being more likely to rate) but many games also prompt people within apps to give reviews or ratings, as positive reviews are a major factor in deciding which app to download
  • It helps to be early: Despite ever-increasing user bases, only 4 of the top 50 iPhone apps were released after 2010. Getting in early, and reaping the benefits of large numbers of reviews and ratings, provides a strong profile even among newer users
  • Time sensitivity on iPhone is key: Nearly all of the top iPhone apps (outside of games/entertainment) are either time sensitive or impulse – social networks, news, weather, search etc.
  • Three of the top 4 iPad apps are TV catch-up services, and another four of the top apps are news services. The tablet is living up to its reputation for lean-back media consumption
  • But can the iPad also cater to business needs?  A quarter of the top Paid apps (including the number one app) are productivity or education based. This suggests the affluent, business-orientated user base are experimenting with using their iPads to replace other devices. Will this experimentation turn into habit?

sk

Some things I’ve learned about tablet computers

The shorter version:

Some things I’ve learned about tablet computers include:

  • Penetration remains small but is growing
  • iPads are the only tablet in town
  • They have their own niche in the media landscape
  • Tablet use is largely additive to other forms of media
  • They aren’t mainstream yet – but could be

The longer version:

Some facts and data about tablet computers that I’ve sourced (from publicly accessible information) include

  • 3.62m people in the UK now own a tablet computer, equivalent to 7.6% of the population and up from 2.8% in November 2010 (equivalent US figures put penetration at 11%)
  • The iPad represents 73% of UK sales, and 97.2% of all US tablet traffic
  • Tablets combine mobile’s portability and flexibility with computer’s power and screen real estate. However, they are most likely to be used in the living room, with 62% of iPad owners never or rarely take their devices out of home. Although they are owned by the individual, 7 in 10 owners share their device with others – most likely a partner or spouse
  • With the exception of desktop computers – at least two thirds of US tablet owners said their usage of other devices (ranging across all four screens) was either the same or had actually increased
  •  326m tablets are forecast to be sold worldwide in 2015 – more than five times the figure estimated for 2011 (63.6m)

Sources:

sk

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/doug88888/2800841720/

MRS Mobile Insights Conference

The first Mobile Insights Conference, hosted by the Market Research Society, took place in London this week. I was in attendance.

I’ve mentioned my thoughts on the word insight several times in the past. Did I take away many insights from the day? No. Were the talks useful? In parts. Was it worth attending? Yes

Although the first use of a mobile phone for research was over ten years ago, the techniques available on the devices are still in their infancy. This means we are still in the experimentation stage of understanding what can be achieved on mobile – compelling innovations and applications of research do exist, but are rare.

As such, the projects discussed over the course of the day were largely (but not exclusively) small and tactical. It would have been great to hear of any companies really embracing mobile research to inform strategy, but perhaps we haven’t yet got to this stage.

Given the relative lack of application, the day largely focused upon the mechanics of mobile research. A topic not particularly attractive to research buyers – I counted two research buyers on the delegate list alongside attendees from research agencies and suppliers (discounting speakers). While it important to collaborate as an industry, the realities of competitive advantage meant that, with the odd exception, research agencies aren’t going to be particularly candid about learnings when they are speaking to other research agencies.

Those gripes aside, I did take some several useful things from the day.

Tim Snaith, OnePoint Mobile Surveys – Defining the Future

After some opening remarks from this OnePoint colleague Neil Jessop, Tim Snaith took the floor to talk about the immediate future. Some of the points he made include:

  • “If we define mobile research in a certain way, it will be adopted in a certain way”. Instead, we should be open-minded as how people ultimately choose to engage with the mobile will define how we can engage with them
  • There is currently no knowledge base in mobile so we need to build foundations with case studies and open reports
  • Downtime on the computer is decreasing because there is so much on there to keep us busy. Mobile is now the device for downtime, creating opportunities for surveys
  • Blending computer and mobile research isn’t ideal, since the space restrictions on mobile mean you are effectively asking different questions
  • International mobile research needs to consider the different regulatory and technological requirements in each market (for instance, different networks use different character sets in SMS)

Alex Wilde, Globalpark – Tracking trends

Alex defined the four types of research that can be conducted on a mobile as a survey (e.g. invited by a banner ad), diary, storytelling (capturing stimulus) and netnography.

An issue with surveys is that there are over 3,000 combinations of mobile handset, browser, operating system and so on. Ensuring usability is therefore a challenge. Within survey design, he advocated drop down boxes rather than radio buttons, and limiting text boxes to a single line field

With regards to some of their mobile studies

  • They receive 35% of responses within the first hour (Lightspeed say they received 60% of completes in the first 15 minutes and 90% within the first hour – evidently research design will be more indicative than overall methodology trends)
  • When survey respondents were asked after a few questions if they would like to continue the survey and, if so, where; 70% of iPhone users said they would continue on their phone but 90% of non iPhone users said they would prefer to continue on their computer
  • 90% of respondents were willing to share their location via GPS

Tom Webber, Nielsen – Smartphone trends and opportunities

Tom shared several statistics with the audience:

  • Smartphone penetration in the UK grew from 12% to 20% in Q1 2010 (smartphone defined by an operating system such as iOS or Android)
  • As the prices of phones rises, long term ARPU falls (presumably this was down to unlimited data charges and the need to bundle SMS rather than charge individually?)
  • Net Promoter Scores for smartphone owners are fifteen points higher than those for featurephone owners (26 vs 11)
  • 64% of iPhone users use apps daily, compared to 52% of Android users and 38% of other phone users
  • The Apple App Store has 84% satisfaction; the Android Marketplace has 81%. Apple performs better on range of apps and download experience; Android wins on ease of browsing and discovery
  • American 13-17 year olds sent an average of 3142 texts a month in Q1 2010 (I believe this figure includes twitter and facebook updates); the figure for under 12s was 1152
  • In the US, Twitter accounts for 42% of phone messages sent; Facebook for 16% (though I believe GSMA data has Facebook far ahead in the UK, at least in terms of time spent)

Patrick Hourihan, Yahoo! – APPetite

Patrick (Disclosure: an ex Essential employee although, like in Ghostbusters, our streams never crossed) was the first speaker to give a presentation, rather than read a report, and it was probably my favourite talk of the day in terms of interesting content (if not practical application).

After some general industry statistics (such as 11m social network users via mobile, 5.7m people downloading games and 11m using mobile media for entertainment, he ran through the methodology for APPetite

  • Online diary and forum
  • Focus groups in London and Manchester
  • Depth interviews with in situ mobile usage
  • 2,000 person online survey among 16-65 year old mobile media users (done online as mobile doesn’t give the depth or the same level of representativeness)
  • Mobile app survey using Research Now’s real-time data collection tool (I think the questions were regarding which app was used, where and how it compared to online)

Things the research covered either qualitatively or quantitatively include

  • Consumer expectations have shifted from functional use to emotional use
  • Nearly as many use mobile for entertainment (58%, if you include social networking) as they do functional (63%)
  • There is a claimed decline in snacking, with longer usage sessions
  • Brands have been mapped to times of day, with the BBC, Facebook, Google and Yahoo! in use across the entire day
  • Apps have the wow factor among users, and satisfaction of services (such as Facebook) is higher for the app than the for the web (NB: This wasn’t broken down by operating system)
  • However, there is some confusion over what an app is (e.g. it could be a  shortcut to a website)
  • 55% don’t have a preference between an app and web so long as they can fulfil their specific needs
  • When a mobile service doesn’t work, 44% blame the brand, 34% the phone and 29% the network

Siamack Salari, Everydaylives – Using mobile for ethnography

Siamack’s talk was the only brazen sales pitch of the day, but it was justified since he was the only person speaking with a genuinely groundbreaking (or so it seemed to me) research technique – a mobile application where people can capture audio, video and pictures, tag it and upload it to a central server to be sorted, filtered, analysed and edited.They can comment and feedback on the information others compile.

The iPhone app cost £5,000 to develop (whereas the BlackBerry app cost around £60,000) and will allow ethnography to be conducted on a larger scale. Previously, he would film 2 hours of footage a day over several days, conduct interviews separately and then spend time editing the reams of footage.

The app come with a small price, but he is shortly going to launch a consumer version, which is free and would allow people to effectively sell their lives to willing buyers. He mentioned that, independent of this, Coca Cola and P&G approached him about fitting out their workforces with the application.

Learnings from his first four studies are

  • Not all iPhone users are familiar with iTunes, and so will need to be walked through app installation
  • A template of how to shoot video is required for a consistent quality of submissions
  • Research needs to be designed carefully to avoid it altering people’s behaviour
  • He has facilitated post-filming opt-outs, where he gives people an email address and a code, in case they want to have their privacy protected in their friends’ film

Leonie Hodge, Channel 4 and Anthony Cox, Sparkler – Using SMS to uncover drivers of viewing

As a cost effective alternative to ethnography (and allowing a greater sample), Channel 4 commissioned Sparkler to conduct research into drivers of viewing using 24 depth interviews, 9 in-home evening visits and 35 media diaries lasting for 6 days using a combination of mobile and paper.

Essentially, on days 1, 3 and 5 Sparkler would text the respondents to ask them what they were going to watch on TV that evening. They would send several messages (manually) if requiring clarification or reminding. On days 2, 4 and 6 people would fill in a standard consumption diary of what they watched the previous evening.

The research showed that there were very few appointment to view programmes (a disappointment?), and the majority of consumption was last-minute or spontaneous decision making.

Sparkler’s advise was to

  • Get the stakeholders to pilot the technique, in order to engage them with the process
  • Keep it as simple as possible for the respondent
  • Design the outputs so analysis can be as efficient as possible

AJ Johnson, Ipsos MORI – Using mobile to gain greater customer insights

AJ was the exception in that he was quite open and candid about Ipsos MORI’s various experiments with mobile research – both successes and failures. Initiatives include

  • Using mobile for passive media consumption for radio (via ambient sound recording) and posters (via GPS)
  • Quick polls for PR purposes
  • Comparisons to online research, which showed that mobile surveys took longer with shorter answers and a lower response rate, but that quality of response (recall, in this instance) was higher
  • Multimedia diaries – they invited 1,000 people to take part in recording their weekend activities. 200 agreed to take part, but only 37 provided usable material. They had asked for 4 diaries a day from people, but received an average of 2.7 per person (they tended to be photos)
  • Software they have been experimenting with includes Microsoft Pivot and The Link (unsurprisingly, I can’t find the link)

Gavin Sugden, T-Mobile – Measuring customer satisfaction via SMS

Gavin was also exceptional, in the sense that his was the only example of SMS research being used more strategically. T-Mobile changed their customer satisfaction survey from a 20 minute CATI survey to an SMS survey of around 6 questions – 3 standard questions and 3 from a battery of 15. They found SMS would be a better capture method and more cost effective than CATI, IVR or the mobile web, though Gavin didn’t seem to have a problem with privacy, saying that people could delete the messages if they didn’t want to respond (T-Mobile customers would be contacted within 24 hours of purchase in-store, web activity or phoning customer services).

With people only eligible to complete one survey in 60 days, they are seeing a 20% response rate.

They have an online reporting tool, which allows analysis of quantitative data and aut0-coding of verbatims.

They currently use the results for performance management (e.g. benchmarking stores) but are moving towards coaching and development of staff, and seeking of ways to improve customer satisfaction. They are also going to start include campaign awareness questions

Liam Corcoran, Fly Research – Insights into alcohol consumption

Liam walked us through a case study from a study he ran for Mintel, looking at alcohol consumption of young adults. Rather than hazy recollections, they used mobile research for in situ response. At 10pm each night, they would send an SMS with a link to a 7 question mobile internet survey.

He also talked a bit more generally about their mobile panel research.

  • They tend to receive 60% response rates from their panels and 20% from cold sample
  • 50% of their responses come within the hour and the vast majority within 24 hours
  • He wouldn’t recommend a mobile internet survey of more than 15 questions
  • Mobile is a great tool for a follow-up to online research, if just a couple of additional answers are needed

Sarah Sanderson and Jason Vir, Kantar Media – Integrating mobile with other research techniques

Sarah and Jason gave the last talk by going through a very recent project they ran during England’s World Cup campaign (presumably the project was ran specifically for the Conference; it must be nice to have the resources to be able to do that!)

The research was designed to access the emotional response in real-time, which they felt would be more honest and truthful

If I remember correctly, they:

  • Recruited people to the project based on answers to questions in TGI Sport+ and TGI Postscript (the TGI omnibus)
  • Got some people to take part in an online community to discuss the tournament
  • Asked these people to submit videos and pictures of them during/after the game (I think 7 people did this, I’m not sure if the community was larger)
  • Sent a WAP survey at half time to a larger sample. 207 responded, 90% of these during the half time interval

Neil Jessop closed the day with a few remarks, including a prediction that there would be more mobile surveys than online surveys. This was the one contentious comment of the day (in my opinion), and this sums up my overall feelings of the event. There were a few interesting asides and thoughts, but there was nothing at the event that really made me stop and think. A shame, but perhaps I was expecting too much.

sk

Image credit: Research-Live