Telefonica Presents Global Mobile Research Study

This morning at Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona, Telefonica (the Spanish-based telecom giant) presented an interesting market research study covering mobile in 54 countries consisting of over 50,000 interviews. Among the highlights:

    • Atitudes towards the role of mobile in one’s life vary more than you would think around the world. China, Brazil, Africa among the areas with highest optimism. Western Europe has particularly less enthusiasm.
    • The countries that are the most open to mobile advertising are Brazil and China. Latin America in general appears particularly less averse to mobile advertising.
    • Latin America in fact now has more mobile lines than people. Prices for devices in the region have been falling significantly. Feature phone ownership is plateauing, smartphone penetration ramping up. Argentina and Brazil over-index on daily smartphone usage vs. rest of the world. They also over-index on mobile shopping.
    • Europeans tend to be more hesitant to incorporate mobile into all parts of life. They under-index on using mobile for business – they prefer to mostly use mobile for their private lives.
    • In response to the survey question: “Can mobile devices improve your potential at work?” the global percentage that agreed was 50%, in Western Europe in was only 22%.
    • A hypothesis was presented: demography matters a great deal on attitudes towards mobile. Essentially, mobile has its biggest impact on populations hungriest for upwards mobility. As per capita income rises, the emotional value placed on mobility decreases.

In india, mobile Internet has already passed desktop internet usage. In Asia, brand love mobile advertising is more successful than in Europe. In Europe, users expect more utilitarian ads offering deals. There’s more creative latitude for brands in APAC.

Telefonica also presented their vision for targeted relevant mobile ads. They have launched several opt-in programs for SMS ads, citing that globally feature phones still dominate, thus limiting th potential reach of richer formats at the present time. Their value proposition includes their access to Customer’s names, home addresses, location (via cell tower for feature phones), and interests (past location).

The idea is that targeting based on this valuable data makes their mobile advertising offer particularly compelling. It was acknowledged that in many cultures this could be perceived as invasive, but they stressed that the value proposition of each campaign should be made strong enough to overcome this barrier. While the campaign results presented were impressive (e.g. 10% offer redemption), they did not cite how many customers had opted in to begin with as a percentage of their vast user base.

As an example of a value exchange with consumers, the company mentioned its Netzclub program in Germany, which offers free data usage to consumers who agree to view one targeted video ad per day.

Barcelona, “Mobile World Capital”

Greetings from Barcelona where Mobile World Congress 2013 will be kicking off tomorrow. Having arrived today I have already taken note of a couple first impressions.

Upon landing one of the first things I noticed were special courtesy information booths at baggage claim for Chinese device makers Huawei and ZTE. Maybe it’s because of a major theme I took note of at CES this year, but I got the feeling that the Chinese handset makers are going to go big at this year’s MWC. At minimum it would seem they are flying in enough people to warrant special staffing at baggage claim to corral them all.

Also at baggage claim was a person in an Android outfit:

Android Guy

Not especially remarkable, except if you look on his/her lower left hip, you’ll see an Intel sticker. This has probably got something to do with some big chipset announcements they are rumored to be making this week. It could be interesting to see how much emphasis Intel puts on Android vs. Windows Phone.

As I waited for them to finish cleaning my hotel room I popped down into the nearby Metro to orient myself with the system. In doing so I discovered this scene:



There had apparently been some sort of public NFC tap-point here. The vending machine offers tap-based payments (along with traditional credit card swipes) and dispenses cute mobile accessories.

In general there are supposed to be MWC-related NFC tap-points springled throughout the city. If I find more interesting examples I’ll share them here.

This initiative is part of Barcelona’s partnership with the folks behind MWC, in the hopes of establishing it as (per the signs all around the airport) the “World Mobile Capital”.

Technology from Faraway Lands

I’ve only been to two CESs now, and both times I’ve really enjoyed an area called the “International Gateway.” Populated by companies from the far east, in particular China, Taiwan and Korea, this area showcases very small vendors in an atmosphere wholly unlike that of the rest of CES. The small booths are arranged in long narrow rows and the structures are more or less uniform. You don’t see a lot of press or tour groups, and you’ve never heard of any of the companies.


What you find as you walk the aisles of the International Gateway ranges from the banal to the interesting to the absurd. If there’s one thing I think you can say there is the most of, it is off-brand Android tablets. It seems like every third booth is showcasing numerous different sized and shaped Android tablets. One vendor told me that the 7” model in his booth sells for $45.


There’s also electronic signage, and a company that makes a Segway clone, LED lighting, and lots of Bluetooth speakers. Also, one company was showing off a USB-enabled BB gun.


So next time you come to CES, try and carve out an hour or two for the International Gateway. If nothing else, it’s a great break from the vibe of the rest of the show.

Smart TV on the Rise

I have no statistics handy to back up the following claim – only my casual observation of what seems to me to be obvious. I feel as though that the number of Smart TVs at this year’s CES as a share of overall models has increased dramatically over last year. Last year Smart TVs, those that took advantage of Internet Services (e.g. Netflix, Hulu, Vudu) without an over-the-top box, were certainly around; This year I feel as though they were more ubiquitous.

We saw the big brands continue to push their Smart TV models, but we also saw other smaller brands advertise their TVs as Roku-Ready, meaning they supported the full functionality of the Roku Streaming Stick.

We also saw many, many Android-based devices that can plug into an HDMI port on whatever kind of screen you have. These came largely from the smaller and more obscure vendors, but from the informal survey we took they are very inexpensive.


It’s hard to say when the adoption of Smart TV technology will really accelerate in the marketplace. And with companies like Dish Networks fighting back against cord-cutting with their own ecosystems, it will be interesting to see how this trend progresses.

One Day My Oven Will Have a Blog

A trend I really enjoyed exploring at this year’s CES was the embedding of connected functionality and sometimes little video screens into common household appliances.

LG showcased ovens and washing machines that you could pair with your mobile device via NFC or WiFi. You could then control these appliances remotely. So for instance, you would set the oven to cook pizza just right by pulling up a pizza recipe on your phone and then tapping the oven. Or you could start your washing machine with a tap and monitor it’s progress remotely.

Samsung had a fridge that sported a small touchscreen in the front, which was set up to run a nice array of apps. There was the ability to hook into twitter, for instance, and also Evernote, so you could manage your grocery lists. And obviously since it is a connected device, anything you write in Evernote on the fridge (e.g. “buy milk”) will sync to your mobile device.

If you take that line of thinking further, imagine a world where your smartphone, desktop, laptop, TV, fridge, washing machine and car all synchronize to the same cloud services. Something you do on one could carry over to all of them. That kind of powerful utility is something brands should consider thinking about now, in terms of how they can reach audiences seamlessly across all of these potential touchpoints.

An Amazing Acoustical Invention

One of my favorite startups showcased at the this year’s CES was Simply Amplified. They make 3D printed smartphone amplifiers. You can take a look at their assortment here.

You set your smartphone down into the cradle portion of the object, and the natural shape of the object (based on the golden ratio, I’m told) amplifies the sound from the device. It’s key to point out that this device is not powered in any way – no batteries, no power plug. It just has a little hole where your phone speaker is so it can naturally channel the sound. By default they are designed for iPhones, but they also can include an adapter for the more popular Android handsets if you need one.

They have a kickstarter  going to improve their production process. It seems like a great product and team, I’m rooting for them.

The Mike Trout of CES 2013

Sometime during the 2012 baseball season, I became aware of Mike Trout. A player for the Angels, he had a pretty solid minor league career but I had never heard of the guy. When I finally did hear about him, it was because he was putting up amazing numbers. Not just great stats for a rookie, great for a baseball player in general. He basically came out of nowhere to dominate the league, seemingly suddenly.

I feel similarly about the state-owned Chinese company Hisense. Informal surveys of my colleagues and others confirm that I am in the large majority of Americans who have never heard of this company before this week. But here they were, at CES, in Microsoft’s old spot in the Central Hall. And what they filled their booth with was pretty amazing. Here are my favorites:

Interesting Smart TV functionality. They support the Opera TV Store, which aims to bring web apps to TVs. Also, robust support in many of their models for Google TV, and a Google TV set-top box called Pulse.



An entire station dedicated to showing their support for HTML5 – on TVs.



Facial Recognition capabilities



An HD projector with very short throw (at a fraction of the cost of LG’s stunning entry at this CES)



A transparent 3D screen and a transparent touch screen


They also had performing dancers, some mobile devices and nice large UltraHD TVs. Not bad for the first time out.

The Amazon Locker Experience

Here at the Lab, we like to kick the tires of new technologies to get a feeling for what the real end-user experience is. Based on our findings we can keep our fingers on the pulse of industry trends, ideate new uses of these technologies and new ways for marketers to reach audiences.

To this end, we recently gave Amazon Locker a try. Here was our experience:

1) We chose a nearby locker and chose it as a shipping address

2) When the package was delivered, we got an e-mail with a pick-up code


3) We found the lockers at a parking garage

4) We entered our code

5) A box popped open

6) And viola! Our package was there


Overall I’d say the experience was actually pretty smooth and enjoyable. The main drawback was the rain in between the office and the locker.

Also, one thing to remember about this service is that you can only use it for Amazon purchases. Meanwhile companies like BufferBox (recently purchasedby Google) are working on a version of this concept that is more like a real P.O. Box.

The Future Is Fotomat

Remember Fotomat? Well for those too young to remember or don’t know what the space behind the photo kiosks at CVS is all about, the process went a little something like this:

  • You took pictures with a film camera.
  • You took the roll of film out of your camera and left it at a Fotomat store or photo-developing counter in a larger store
  • You would come back a few days later and pick up your pictures

And you would go through all of this because

  • Photo-printing equipment was too large, complicated and expensive to have in your house.

Which brings me to 3D Printing. On one hand you might be hearing enormous buzz about how 3D printing is the future of personal home creation. Like 2D printers but 1D better. With the same volume though, you can hear people saying that 3D printing is too expensive and complex to be a mass trend.

My hypothesis is that there’s a middle ground, and that middle ground is the Fotomat model. You start with a digital 3D file. Maybe you created it, maybe someone sent it to you via e-mail, or maybe you downloaded it from the web from a brand or product website. Maybe you modify it before printing, maybe you take it as is. In any case, you upload it to a company with physical retail locations (or bring it in on a USB stick). There, at one central place, for a fee, your object is printed for you. And you can then pick it up along with milk and soap.

Staples has just announced a foray into this model. You upload a file to them, they print it, and then you either pick it up or have them mail it to you. They’ve even branded the effort with the word “Easy” baked right into the name.

I’d argue that if this type of service is executed well, it could spread to a wide variety of large chain retailers. This doesn’t mean a dim view for personal 3D Printers though; it just means that there could be an interim, Fotomat-like step in between where we are today and wide adoption.


Little Bits, Here And There

We were very excited last week to get ahold of a LittleBits starter kit here at the Lab. LittleBits is a very interesting and simple way for kids of all ages to learn about electronics. The individual modules are color-coded and the directions are very simple. As you can see below, the starter kits comes with a nice selection of modules that snap together with ease.

It took us all of 30 seconds to assemble the below contraption, from a 9V battery, the knob module and the light module. It is effectively just a light dimmer:

This is another example of a larger trend in DIY, from electronics to content creation and even self-designed and printed plastic toys.