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The “Internet of Things” Is Here: 12.5 Bln Connected Devices, $470 Bln Annual Revenue [REPORT]

Over the past few years, one of the hottest topics in the technology industry has been the phenomenon of the “Internet of Things”. With the advances in technology, the conversation has shifted from a theoretical model to actual physical implementations. It is the next phase in the Information Revolution. As more and more people realise the potential of this technology, the IoT phenomenon is truly about to explode in the industry and public consciousness.

The State Of The IoT Industrial Landscape

RFID tags are one of the key enablers in an IoT setup. Now, RFID technology is progressively becoming cheaper to mass produce. As a consequence, the IoT industry is predicted to experience tremendous growth and adoption over the following years. In fact, Bain forecast annual revenues upwards of $470 billion for IoT software and hardware vendors by 2020! In addition, data from Juniper Research depicts that nearly 12.5 billion business assets in retail sector will be connected to IoT platforms by 2021. The exploded adoption of IoT can be visualised with the fact that there would be 350% rise in the number of retail devices connected to IoT platform between 2016 and 2021.

The research firm also adds that, in retail, retail businesses will need to integrate the data collected from IoT assets with enterprise solutions to achieve next level of growth. Integration of enterprise solution with IoT assets in itself would be a big opportunity for IoT enablers. The spendings on software for ERP to integrate the data collected from IoT assets in the Retail sector is estimated to grow from $1.5 billion in 2017 to $11.3 billion annually by 2021.

This kind of growth is unprecedented. Business Insider estimates that IoT will become the largest device market in the world by 2019 at nearly double the size of the smartphone, PC, tablet, wearable and connected car market combined. From 2016 to 2021, the market size is estimated to grow to a staggering $661.74 billion at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 33.3%.

So what is the driving force behind the tremendous growth of the IoT industry? Let us have a look.

Key Growth Drivers

Advancements in hardware and lowering costs – Computer hardware and network technology has progressed at a tremendous rate over the past few decades. As predicted by Moore’s law, chips are getting smaller. Metcalfe’s law has seen network value increase with each additional network node, and Koomey’s Law has seen batteries getting smaller. With increasingly lower costs and mass availability of essential hardware like RFID tags, IoT enabled devices are primed for mass manufacture and consumer adoption.

Ubiquitous adoption of gateway devices – The IoT is completely reliant on control hubs or gateways for any sort of functional implementation. Personal devices such as smartphones and tablets are perfectly suited to this function. The almost universal presence and ever increasing adoption of these devices are the key enablers for the IoT.

Expanded wireless/broadband connectivity and the implementation of IPv6 protocols – The world is increasingly becoming more and more connected via the spread of the internet. The International Telecommunication Union reports that while 40% of the global population is connected to the internet as of today, this number is set to rise to 57% by 2019. Coupled with the advancements in wireless technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, efficient device-to-device communication is becoming easier by the day.

Another big requirement for the implementation of IoT devices is the ability to differentiate each device. The implementation of Ipv6 protocols has helped immensely with this. Ipv6 supports 128-bit addresses, allowing each device to have its own distinct IP address.

Increased investment in the IoT – Corporations are beginning to realise the enormous potential of the IoT. Companies like Dell, IBM etc are investing heavily in IoT-based technology. General Electric forecast investment in Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to cross $60 trillion in the next 15 years! This kind of investment and commitment is driving significant innovation and progress in the IoT industry.

Cloud Computing – As one would expect, mass scale implementation of IoT will generate an enormous amount of data. The storage and processing of this data is only feasible on the cloud computing model. We have made significant strides in cloud technology in the past decade. This will be essential to the growth and adoption of the IoT.


Despite its enormous potential, the IoT is still in its infancy. It lacks a common set of standards and technologies for compatibility. An effort needs to be made to standardise the IoT to enable interoperability and ease of use.

Other significant hurdles include issues around data management of such high volumes, security and consumer privacy. The IoT is based on big data, and the potential for abuse is very real.


  • The IoT is set to become the biggest device market in the world by 2019.
  • Business models will change to adapt to the IoT. This includes the rise of “Product as a Service” business models.
  • The fall in hardware and networking costs is the key driver enabling the IoT.
  • Security and privacy concerns are the biggest issues plaguing the IoT presently.
Apple Brief Companies Google Innovations Microsoft Mobile Mobile Apps Technology

Samsung Bixby Will Intensify The War of AI Driven Virtual Digital Assistants

Exciting news came out recently, with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd (KRX:005930announcing their new virtual digital assistant. Named “Bixby”, Samsung describes it as the “new intelligent interface” on all their devices. This marks the first time ever that Samsung has officially entered the market for AI (Artifical Intelligence) powered digital assistants.

The industry for AI based virtual assistance is in a flux right now. There are many big players who are entering the field and scrambling for market share. Most importantly, everybody is constantly looking to innovate to keep their own digital assistance service relevant.

The State of the AI-powered Digital Assistant Industry

With so many behemoths of the tech world committing heavily to the creation of a truly functional AI assistant, it would seem that most believe that digital assistants are the next big thing. Samsung’s Bixby is only the latest big entry in the market, adding to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google’s Assistant.

The numbers seem to back up these companies’ faith in the potential for AI virtual assistance. According to a report by Research and Markets, the user base of consumer VDA (Virtual Digital Assistants) will grow from 390 million in 2015 to 1.8 billion by the end of 2021. This represents a growth of 361.54% in just over 6 years. Meanwhile, enterprise VDA users will grow from 155 million users to 843 million in the same time period.

Moreover, the revenue growth projections are even more lucrative. The report forecasts growth in VDA revenue from $1.6 billion in 2015 to $15.8 billion in 2021. This is a jaw dropping 887.5% growth in a period of 6 years!

The enormous potential of this type of technology is obvious. However, it remains to be seen who will take the best advantage of it.

The Parameters For Success

With increasing competition in the VDA marketplace, success is not guaranteed for anyone. While everyone wants to achieve a similar end goal, they are going about it in various different ways. Ultimately, these strategies and the manner of their execution will decide who will prevail. The conversation can be found to be centred upon the following major points:

Openness and Third Party Development – One of the biggest factors affecting most VDAs is their development model. The stark differences are especially obvious if we compare Siri and Alexa, two of the most popular VDAs currently. Amazon has opted for a more open source approach for Alexa, enlisting the aid of third party developers. This is done via the concept of “skills”, which are basically applications that enable specific functionality in Alexa. Needless to say, this allows Alexa much greater functionality across a wider spectrum.

On the other hand, Apple completely controls development and the flow of information in the case of Siri. This means that Siri has a very limited skillset compared to Alexa. However, the upside to this is that with strict control limits, the chance of unexpected interactions is greatly reduced. This provides for a more polished end user experience.

Google are also working on plans to involve third-party developers in the development of Google Assistant in a limited capacity using tools such as API.AI. Microsoft have outlined plans for a “proactive skill” based system, which would draw on existing their existing skills from Alexa.

Product Design and Humanization of AI – The technology powering VDAs are still in its infancy. We have found that most universal solutions are susceptible to a multitude of bugs, errors or misinformation. By narrowing the range of functions performed by a particular device, we can greatly improve the quality of the user experience. This amply demonstrated by the success of the Amazon Echo dot, which performs its admittedly limited functionality in a more satisfactory fashion. This segmentation of responsibility can help VDAs provide a more targeted and functional service. Notable examples of these are home automation, and sous vide tools which employ integrated VDAs.

Another vital factor I success could be the “humanization” of AI. Most AI machines of today seem very alien and robotic, with only rudimentary attempts to make them appear human. Making machines more adept at human interaction and encouraging natural conversation could be key for widescale adoption of VDAs.

Personalization and Customization – Learning more about the user and human mind, in general, can help expand and improve VDA functionality immeasurably. The quality of information will be greatly improved, with the ability to proved customised information tailored to the needs of specific users. This sort of artificial “memory” can also help reduce the frequency of redundant command requests. Whichever VDAs can provide a better-personalised experience are on a sure path to success.

However, this has given rise to a lot of privacy concerns from users, and it is imperative that companies be mindful of privacy and information abuse to ensure consumer goodwill.


  • Samsung announces their new digital assistant, “Bixby” which will provide competition to Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, Google Assitant and Apple Siri.
  • The market for Virtual Digital Assistants is a potential goldmine, with a potential yearly revenue of $15.8 billion by 2021.
  • The consumer user-base for VDAs is also rapidly expanding, with the number of unique users to rise to 1.8 billion by 2021.
  • Personalization, third party development and “humanization” of AI are key factors in the success of VDAs.
Brief Games Mobile Mobile Apps Smartphones

Time Spent In Messaging And Social Apps Grew By Whopping 394% in 2016 [REPORT]

The future belongs to mobile. This is a fact that we have known for a while now. The landmark presentation “Mobile is Eating The World” by analyst Benedict Evans very aptly showcases how smartphones have infiltrated practically every aspect of our lives. For a while now, mobile has been replacing desktop as the premier method to access the internet. In fact, Google’s Android OS is set to overtake Microsoft’s Windows as the market leader in terms of internet usage. A recent study by Flurry Analytics confirms some expected trends, but also surprises us with some unexpected facts.

The State of Mobile Report by Flurry Analytics reports that the mobile app usage registered a growth of 11% YoY (sessions) in 2016. The growth, however, is much slower compared to the 58% YoY growth recorded in 2015. This is to be expected, as the market matures and reaches a saturation point.

On the other hand, as more and more people are getting used to smartphone and embracing mobile internet, people are spending more time in apps. It is clearly visible from the fact that the time spent in apps grew by 69% YoY in 2016. In a practical sense, this translated to nearly 5 hours of screen time daily for the average American consumer!

Predictably, the report also finds that apps dominate smartphone usage, with the mobile web only accounting for an 7% share. It is abundantly clear that we are gravitating towards a completely app-based ecosystem.

Dissecting The Trends

The report provides us with some interesting insights on user behaviour patterns, which are vital for any app development company. The salient points are:

The Massive Popularity of Messaging and Social Apps:  

Messaging and Social were the biggest drivers of the growth of mobile app usage. Together they registered a 44% growth in usage and whopping 394% growth in time spent in 2016.

The impressive growth in mobile app usage can be attributed mainly to few factors. First is the increasing prevalence of messaging and voice/video calling features on many social media platforms. The expanding feature set and versatility of these apps have led to increased adoption and usage by users.

mobile apps time spent 2016

The second factor involves the rise of the “communitainment“, which is basically communication for the sole purpose of entertainment. This is exemplified by the extraordinary popularity and growth of Snapchat. The unexpected contributor to the massive growth of these apps has been their popularity with 35-49 age demographic. According to the latest report by Nielsen the middle-aged demographic spend the most time on social media. People belonging to age group 35-39 years were found to spend nearly 7 hours per week on social media. This is more than the time spent on apps by any other age group.

The Dichotomy of Games on Mobile 

Games on mobile experienced a decline in app usage (sessions) for the second year running. According to the report, games depreciated by 15% in app usage. The time spent in games was also down by 4%.

Though the trend may suggest a fall in user interest in mobile games, but a deeper look paints a different picture. Newzoo reports that mobile gaming overtook PC as the premier gaming platform in 2016. Mobile Gaming generated a revenue of $36.9 billion, accounting for 37% of total gaming revenue. This hints to the fact that mobile users are more willing to spend money on their games than ever before. A lot of the “freemium” games on mobile allow users to pay to skip portions of the game, and this could explain increasing mobile game revenues in the face of decreasing user engagement.

Additionally, these findings can also be put down due to an anomalous year. Mobile gaming is a hit based industry, something which was lacking this year.

The Startling Decline of Personalization Apps

Another notable statistic was the fall in usage of personalization apps, which was down by a whopping 46%. As mobile operating systems and apps have matured, they have expanded their feature sets. Many of the features that required separate apps previously are now in-built. This has led to immensely reduced usage of dedicated personalization apps.

Mobile is Going After TV

Back in 2015, Bloomberg reported that time spent on mobile surpassed TV for the first time ever. The gulf between them has only grown since then. The on-demand nature and convenience of watching from anywhere has made mobile the preferred platform for watching videos. With major video streaming giants like Youtube and Hulu planning to offer OTT bundles to users, it looks like traditional TV is going to continue losing market share.

The Smartphone Software Wars Have Commenced

After years of astonishing growth across the board, mobile apps have started eating into their own. Social media and sports categories have experienced tremendous growth, while personalization apps have had a catastrophic fall. Wall Street Journal reports that handset shipment growth has only been a mere 0.6% in 2016. This suggests that the battlefield has shifted to the software side, with hardware having stagnated. This would mean that the mobile app industry is set to become more competitive than ever.


  • Mobile has become the preferred platform for media consumption at the expense of desktop and traditional media platforms such as TV.
  • The “Phablet” form factor is slowly becoming the de facto standard due to an increasing demand for larger screen sizes for media consumption.
  • Gaming on mobile continues to rake in big bucks even as user engagement declines.
  • With stagnating hardware growth, the mobile software market is becoming more and more competitive.
Apple Brief Companies Innovations Mobile Mobile Apps Technology

Could Amazon’s Alexa Coming To iOS Spell The Beginning Of The End For Siri, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) has announced that they are bringing their AI digital assistant, Alexa to the iOS platform for the first time ever. Amazon declared that users will now be able to access Alexa from inside Amazon’s iOS app. This comes on the heels of Amazon also publishing the Alexa companion app for Android devices recently.

This, apparently, is a worrying development for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and their in-house digital assistant, Siri. The tech behemoth has been investing a lot on Siri for many years anticipating voice technology as the driver of future growth of computing. While Amazon Alexa is offering similar functionality, and even better in many use cases, Siri has a strong contender in its own ecosystem.

Coming out of Amazon factory, Alexa could provide some stiff competition to Siri, and may harm Apple’s own ambitions towards their AI assistant. Let’s dig deep into this recent development to analyse

  • What is Alexa upto?
  • Will Amazon Alexa prove to be Siri killer?
  • Will the development take the AI assistance to a whole new level?
  • Considering Apple’s rich history of innovation, how Amazon Alexa will have to keep reinventing itself.

Alexa: The New Player On The Block

In November 2014, Amazon announced Alexa along with their Echo Dot smart speaker. Touted as an intelligent personal assistant, Alexa launched without much hype or fanfare. However, its popularity has exploded since then. CES 2017 showcased the enormous potential of this technology, with many products integrated with Alexa. The market for digital assistants is expanding rapidly, with AI expected to become the basis for human interaction with various devices in the near future. Allied Market Research predicts the market for digital assistants to grow to $3.6 billion by 2020. Additionally, RBC Capital Markets predicts that Alexa could bring in as much as $10 billion in revenue for Amazon by 2020. With so much at stake, we can expect all the major players to pull out all the stops in the pursuit of this technology.

The Siri Killer?

The biggest and most immediate consequence of Alexa’s launch on the iPhone will be felt by Siri. Developed by Apple themselves, Siri has been a mainstay in Apple devices since the launch of the iPhone 4S back in 2011. Unlike Amazon’s Alexa, Siri launched to immense hype and fanfare. Ultimately, Siri failed to live up to expectations and was relegated to only occasional novelty use by most users. However, a lot has changed since then. There have been significant improvements in voice recognition and AI technology. Competition from the likes of Microsoft, Google and Amazon has driven Apple to keep improving Siri, but will it be enough?

Amazon Alexa has some significant advantages over Apple’s Siri, some of which could ultimately lead to Siri’s demise.

  • Amazon’s More Open Source Approach – One of the biggest leg-ups that Alexa has over Siri is Amazon’s willingness to collaborate with third parties. The basis of Alexa’s functionality is “skills”. These are apps which enable new functionality for Alexa. Amazon’s decision to allow third-party developers to create these “skills” is paying off big time. It has enabled the rapid development and expansion of Alexa’s functionality. In contrast, Siri, which is a completely in-house project, is limited to only Apple provided functionality.
  • The Creation Of An AI-Based Digital Ecosystem – While Apple’s Siri has been limited to Apple mobile devices till now, Amazon is making a huge push for Alexa integration in a multitude of devices, and not just limited to smartphones/tablets. Announcements at CES 2017 of collaboration with LG on their new refrigerator and  Huawei’s Mate 9 smartphone indicate Amazon’s massive ambitions for Alexa. Products like sous vide tools, intercoms, remote controls integrated with Alexa already exist. The Wemo Insight Switch allows complete home automation using Alexa. As we move towards an AI based digital ecosystem and the rise of the “Internet of Things”, people may gravitate towards Alexa for a more seamless experience across various devices.
  • Amazon Integration – Alexa is directly integrated with Amazon’s e-commerce arm. Now shopping via Amazon has been made as easy as simply saying what you want. This represents a massively beneficial symbiotic relationship for Amazon. Alexa helps drive their e-commerce business, whereas the Amazon integration lures users towards Alexa. In fact, some reports predict that Alexa may bring in $10 billion in revenue for Amazon by 2020.
  • Amazon Alexa is based on more accomplished technology – While it is still early days in the AI digital assistant wars, it is safe to say that Alexa is leading the pack in terms of functionality and ease of use. A showdown by Tomsguide found Alexa to be superior to Siri in most categories. Alexa was found to have better voice recognition, faster response times and better availability. Alexa also had much better integration for shopping and music services. Additionally, Alexa was better at contextual conversations too.

All Is Not Lost For Siri

While Alexa’s introduction to iOS may put a significant dent in Siri’s user-base, it is by no means a death sentence. Apple has invested heavily in Siri, and it is not likely they will abandon it anytime soon. Siri still has a couple of big advantages. First is its deep integration with the iOS platform. Siri can be accessed directly in OS, from anywhere. In contrast, Alexa will only be accessed through the Amazon app. Secondly, with Apple’s immense financial muscle and commitment to AI, Siri can be expected to improve along with the competition.


  • The market for digital assistants in expanding at a rapid pace and will be worth $3.6 billion by 2020.
  • Alexa has been a hit for Amazon and is expected to rake in revenues worth $10 billion by 2020.
  • Amazon’s Alexa may seriously dent Siri’s user base on the iOS platform in the immediate future.
  • Alexa’s Amazon and “Internet of Things” integration, and “skill” based development model has given it a leg up over the competition.
Brief Mobile Smartphones

Mobile Data Security: 28% Smartphone Owners Don’t Use Any Screen Lock [STUDY]

In the era of smartphone and technology, mobile security is a big issue. Recent Wikileaks claims of the C.I.A. hacking smartphones have once again brought the issue of mobile security to the forefront. In a time when smartphones are completely integral to our everyday activities, bad security habits can leave us vulnerable to all manner of trouble. However, a recent report by Pew Research Center reveals some worrying issues.

According to the report, nearly 28% of smartphone users do not use a lock screen on their phones. This is the most basic form of security that should be used by everyone. Moreover, 40% of users only update their apps or operating system as per convenience, and some never update their apps (10%) or operating system (14%). This is highly inadvisable since regular updates help shore up security vulnerabilities and other issues.

As one would expect, elderly users are more prone to poor security habits. Users above the age of 65 are much less likely than users below 65 to use a screen lock and regularly update their apps and operating system (13% vs. 23%). They are also more than twice as likely to say that they do not take any actions to secure their phones (8% vs. 3%).

The result of this callous attitude towards mobile security is pretty clear. According to Pew Internet, 64% of Americans have been impacted by a data breach of some kind, with fraudulent credit card charges (41%) and leak of sensitive information (35%) being the most common.

The Need For Better Mobile Security

We are in the midst of a digital upheaval. The behavioural patterns of people are changing when it comes to how they conduct their digital tasks and activities. As we gravitate more and more towards a mobile-first digital ecosystem, we open ourselves to new threats. Some of the biggest reasons outlining the need for mobile security are:

1. Adoption Of The Mobile First Ecosystem – Gradually mobiles are replacing desktop computers for many of our everyday digital activities. As smartphones have become more and more advanced, they are becoming capable of performing tasks that were previously only possible on desktop computers.

According to a report by Pew Research Center, the most popular usage for smartphones in the US were for healthcare information (62%), online banking (57%), real estate listings (44%), job information (43%), government services information (40%), education (30%) and job applications (18%). Many corporate environments are also increasingly using smartphones to conduct their business. Security Softwares such as Antivirus, Firewalls, encryption have been a staple of desktop use for a while now. However, security options and practices on the mobile platform are not nearly as robust. This has made an increasingly large population of the world susceptible to hacking, phishing and other malicious digital attacks.

2. Expansion And Availability of Wireless networks And Public Wifi Hotspots – With advancement in wireless network technology and the spread of services such as 4G and the increasing availability of public WiFi hotspots, it has become possible to conduct a variety of jobs on our smartphones. People have started using their phones for a multitude of sensitive tasks. A survey found that 54% of internet users used public hotspots for various tasks. However, public WiFi hotspots are generally not very secure. Poor mobile security can leave us vulnerable to hacks, phishing and even identity theft.
3. Rise Of Mobile Wallet Payment Systems – One of the more headlining news in the world of smartphones has been the rise of cashless, mobile wallets over the past few years. This transaction model has immense benefits and can be essential in the creation of a truly cashless economy. However, it also means that we are literally keeping our money in our mobiles. This alone warrants the need to be mindful of security as mobiles become a rich target for hackers.
4. The Internet Of Things – The advent of “The Internet of Things” gives us an exciting glimpse into the future. More and more things are becoming internet-enabled, and subsequently controllable by our smartphones. However, poor security here can lead to some horror situations for us. This is aptly demonstrated by the recent hacking of an automated car’s control system to control braking and acceleration.

Recommended Smartphone Security Habits

We can reduce the risk of digital attacks and keep our smartphones secure by just following some basic security habits:

  1. Utilise password protection wherever possible. In case of an alphanumeric password, follow these guidelines to create an optimal password
  2. Avoid conducting any important business of public networks
  3. Keep your smartphone operating system and apps updated
  4. Never store your password or account information on your smartphone
  5. Avoid installing suspicious apps or clicking on suspicious email links
  6. Regularly backup your data
  7. Employ the use of a good mobile security software. Cyberscoop outlines a list of effective and ineffective security apps on Android-based on extensive testing
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Facebook To Beat Google In Digital Display Ad Revenue In 2017 [REPORT]

The spending on digital advertising in the US is set for another year of startling growth. But the major eye-popping fact is the strengthening position of Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) in digital display ad market which will widen the gap with Google.

The research firm eMarketer estimates that in the US, total spending on digital advertising will reach $83 billion in 2017. This represents a growth of 15.9% year-over-year and is congruent with the continuing trend of advertisers flocking to digital at the expense of traditional formats. In fact, driven by mobile and video, eMarketer predicted digital ad spending in the US to overtake TV ad spending by the end of 2016 for the very first time.

The Google And Facebook Duopoly

The report from eMarketer backs Google to maintain its dominance in total ad revenues in the US. The estimated market share of Google for 2017 stands at 40.7%, which would be around double that of second-placed Facebook. As the world’s most popular search engine, Google’s impressive revenue numbers are in large part due to their dominance in search. This can be attributed primarily to a change in the pattern of usage by people in general. With over 3 billion people worldwide using the Internet, the information hungry people are turning to Google looking for the relevant information. The exploded adoption of the mobile internet has only accelerated this phenomenon.

The resurgence of search is in contrast to last year when ad spending on searches was down by 18.6%. This year the predicted growth for searches stands at around 14.1%.

Facebook Claims The Display Market in the US

In the US, while Google maintains its dominance in Search, Facebook captures the display market. The social media giant is estimated to earn $16.33 billion in digital display ad revenues in 2017, an increase of 32.1% over 2016. This would mean a greater share for Facebook with 39.1% of the total US display market. This growth comes at the expense of Google, Yahoo and Twitter. In recent years, Facebook has put a real emphasis on video content, introducing plans for video programming and live streaming. This is now paying dividends, as users are increasingly consuming video content on the platform.

The biggest driver of Facebook’s ad revenue growth is Instagram, expected to account for 20% of Facebook’s US mobile revenue in 2017, up from 15% in 2016.

Google’s display business is also expected to grow to $5.24 billion in 2017. However, they are expected to lose overall market share to Facebook with a 12.5% in 2017.

How The Other Players Are Faring

While Google and Facebook are both expecting healthy growths in ad revenue, things are not so pleasant for Twitter. Their ad revenue growth in the US has stagnated. WSJ actually predicts a 4.7% decline in ad revenues in 2017. This comes amidst reports of financial troubles and lowering stock prices for Twitter.

On the other end of the spectrum, the new boy on the block, Snapchat, is set for explosive growth. After their IPO, Snapchat’s ad revenue is set to grow a whopping 157.8% in the US in 2017. This would put their total revenue at $770 million. However, despite their exponential growth, Snapchat will only account for 1.3% of the US mobile ad market in 2017, a figure that will rise to 2.7% by 2019.

The State And Future Of Digital Ad Spending In The United States

In the US, The digital ad industry is set for significant growth in the next few years, both in ad spending and revenues. The digital advertisement spending will increase by roughly $10 billion every year from 2017 to 2020. It would mean that by 2020, a staggering $113.18 billion would be spent on digital advertising. This growth in digital ad spending in the US will be driven primarily by search and display sectors, which are estimated record 12.5% and 18.2% growth rates, respectively, in 2017. This is followed by Classifieds (10.4%), Email (9.7%) and Lead generation (5.2%). Mobile messaging is set to experience a decline in spend by 0.4%. However, the gulf between display and search is expected to nearly equalise by 2020.

While the expenditure on digital advertising in the US continues to grow, the growth rate is looking to depreciate. The year over year growth rate is estimated to fall in 2017, down from 20.5% in 2016. By 2020, the growth rate will fall to 9.5%. Ad spending growth rate on Mobile, Social and Desktop is all set to drop, with the only search experiencing a positive growth rate in 2017.

Brief Mobile Smartphones

Samsung Will Have to Sweat Blood To Make Galaxy S8 A Howling Success

We are in the midst of another revolution in the smartphone industry. Surely, 2017 is going to be a seminal year for some of the biggest smartphone manufacturers in the world. We are expecting revolutionary new products from industry behemoths like Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd (KRX:005390). This year, they also stand to face stiff competition from other upcoming stars – LG’s G6, Google Pixel 2, Oneplus 4 and even Nokia’s new flagship Android smartphones. Samsung, who has achieved unparalleled success in the previous years, is the current leading Android smartphone manufacturer in the world. In 2016, Samsung once again topped the list of smartphone shipment market with 21.4% share. However, the once invincible Samsung is surprisingly vulnerable this year.

However, the once invincible Samsung is surprisingly vulnerable this year.

Let’s have a look at the factors that will likely determine the success of Galaxy S8, and why Samsung is facing a challenge unlike any other it has faced throughout its illustrious history.

The Samsung Note 7 Debacle And Setback

Samsung launched its flagship Galaxy Note 7 device in August 2016. The device was hotly anticipated, with a variety of innovative new features such as an iris scanner. However, the Note 7 turned out to be a complete and utter failure. It suffered from catastrophic battery and safety issues and ultimately had to be recalled. This fiasco has seriously damaged Samsung, both monetarily and in public perception. As we reported earlier, Samsung lost nearly $2.3 billion within two months due to this disaster. This also allowed Apple to overtake Samsung in smartphone shipments in Q4 2016 for the first time in 5 years. As a result of all this, Samsung is now under immense pressure to deliver. With the sharks circling, Samsung can not afford to make any other mistake with the launch of the Galaxy S8.

The Dark Horse: LG G6

This year we also have an unexpected challenger in the smartphone market – the LG G6. LG has managed to create an innovative, powerful and very premium smartphone. Coupled with the nearly $400 worth of pre-order bonuses the company has promised, the device has led to record-breaking sales figures in South Korea. KB Securities report first day sales of 20,000 units, which is nearly double the first day sales for the Galaxy S7 Edge. Pre-order figures are also impressive, with upwards of 82,000 pre-orders since March 2.

The impressive sales of the LG G6 have forced Samsung pump in advertiser dollars into TV ad for the Galaxy S8 – much earlier than expected. This is a very unusual move from Samsung, who have typically maintained dominance in the Android Korean market. According to a report by Strategy Analytics, Galaxy S7, the Galaxy S7 Edge and the LG G5 were the top 3 most popular smartphones in South Korea in Q2 2016. Despite recent setbacks, Samsung remains the biggest player in the Korean market. LG is second with 19% of the market share, followed closely by Apple at 17%. However, early sales figures for the G6 indicate that LG is eating into Samsung’s share of the premium smartphone market in South Korea.

As LG G6 is scheduled for global launch in April, Samsung doesn’t want to leave any stone unturned to avoid the warmth from its homegrown rival. LG, which is also struggling in the smartphone business, will make every possible move to replicate the success of LG G6 in the US and other countries. Analysts believe it’s high time for LG to make a strong come back before it’s too late for the company which used to be ranked among the Top 5 smartphone vendors globally.

The Titan: iPhone 8

Without a doubt, the biggest challenger to the Galaxy S8 this year will be Apple’s iPhone 8. With 2017 marking the 10 year anniversary of the iPhone, Apple is pulling out all the stops. The iPhone 8 looks set to be the fresh and innovative iPhone ever. The extensive list of rumoured new features and design changes are all but certain to make the iPhone 8 a resounding success. And, if that doesn’t impress, rumours are also making rounds that Apple is working on an ultra-premium iPhone Edition.

Apple also has momentum on their side, after shipping 78.3 million units in Q4 2016 compared to Samsung’s 77.5 million. This marks the first time in 5 years that Apple beat Samsung in the number of smartphone shipments.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes this trend is likely to continue. According to Kuo, the Galaxy S8 “lacks sufficiently attractive selling points” which is why consumers will gravitate more towards the iPhone 8.

What Does The Future of Galaxy S8 Hold For Samsung

Samsung’s smartphone division has seen a meteoric rise over the past decade. They have based their success on iterative evolution and fine-tuning their existing formula. However, because of the Note 7 debacle, the Galaxy S8 has become the foundation of the relaunch of Samsung’s smartphone division. It is now being viewed as the rebirth of Samsung in many ways. Apparently, this is Samsung’s only chance to repair its damaged brand image and return to the top. To do so, Samsung is taking quite a few risks with its new flagship and faces many hurdles to success. Besides certain design changes and the addition of an iris scanner, they have made the decision to completely abandon the flat screen version of the S8 in favour of two models with a 5.8 and 6.2-inch displays respectively, similar to what Apple does. Samsung will also go with a single lens camera setup, unlike the dual lens found on the iPhone. We will have to wait and see how well these changes are received by customers.

But it’s not the competition from other rivals that are putting Samsung in a fix; the views and takes of industry pundits, who see not-so-encouraging response to Samsung Galaxy S8, are also a point of concern for top leadership in Samsung. Analysts at KGI do not have a very positive outlook on the future for Samsung. Ming-Chi Kuo predicts lukewarm sales for the Galaxy S8 at 40-45 million shipments in 2017. This is even lower than the 52 million Galaxy S7 units shipped in 2016.

With new competitors like the LG G6 and the demand for the iPhone 8 expected to be record-breaking, the pressure is on Samsung. The market expectations from Samsung are extremely high, and it remains to be seen whether the market leader can beat or meet or fails despite having decades of experience in the smartphone industry. Whatever be the case, one thing is certain; Samsung will have to work its fingers to the bones in 2017.

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Google Android Is Set To Overtake Microsoft Windows OS First Time In the History

The increasing penetration of smartphones and internet have helped Google Android to get an edge over the Microsoft Windows OS which has been dominating the PC market for long. According to a new report published by Statcounter, as of February of 2017, Google Android has captured 37.4% of the total market share of OS in terms of internet usage, worldwide. This puts Android barely behind leader Microsoft Windows OS, whose share for Internet usage stands at 38.6%. As it stands, Android is sure to overtake Windows OS in market leader in the very near future.

Let’s analyse how the rapid rise of the mobile internet has quickly led to the decline of desktop internet usage and its market share, and what this bodes for the future.

A Connected World: Rise And Adoption of Internet on Mobile

These days the internet is an integral and unavoidable element of human lives, dominating our work, home and entertainment realms. This, however, was not always the case. IDC puts the total number of internet users worldwide at 16 million in December of 1995, which was a mere 0.4% of the population at the time. This figure has since risen exponentially, with people adopting the Internet at an unprecedented rate. Internet World Stats estimates 3,675 million users of the Internet worldwide as of December 2016, which accounts for 50.1% of the world’s population.

For a long time now, the primary method of gaining access to the internet had been the Personal Computer and its dominant Windows operating system. According to Statcounter data, Windows accounted for 82% of global Internet usage as recently as February 2012. This is definitely no longer the case, and Windows’ once unassailable lead is set to be completely nullified very soon. As Aodhan Cullen, CEO of Statcounter puts it so aptly, the unthinkable has happened.

The Astonishing Rise of Mobile Internet Use at The Expense of The Desktop

In January 2012, Android commanded a mere 2.2% share of OS in terms of global internet usage, which has since risen to 37.4% in February 2016. The chief driving force behind the decline of Windows’ Internet usage market share has been the explosive adoption of smartphone and tablets in recent years, with Android leading the pack. Data by Comscore showcases the huge increase in global mobile users from around 400 million in 2007 to 1900 million in 2015. This amounts to an incredible 375% increase in under eight years and resulted in mobile users overtaking desktop users in 2014.

As the user base of mobile devices has changed, so have user habits. Research firm eMarketer released data which shows a steady increase in media consumption on mobile devices ever since 2008, while media consumption patterns on desktops have more or less remained stagnant, with marginal gains and losses in between. Emerging markets, like in developing countries where the mobile user base is much larger than the desktop user base, have increasingly encouraged a “mobile first” approach of late. Now, more and more Internet content and media are being created and are optimised for mobile devices.

Another major contributing factor to the rising consumer adoption of Android mobile devices for internet usage was the introduction and improving proliferation of increasingly faster wireless networks. The worldwide launches of 3G networks in the mid 2000’s changed the way mobile internet was used in countless ways. While previously it was primarily used for email clients and basic web browsing, high-speed 3G networks enabled media sharing and consumption on the mobile device itself. The subsequent launch and adoption of the first 4G network in late 2009 only solidified mobile’s position as a major media consumption device.

Coupled with the steady rise of mobile adoption has been the decline in desktop internet usage and declining sales of the platform itself. Data by Comscore suggests declining PC internet usage year over year. Usage fell by 9.3% in December 2015, 7.6% in January 2016 and 2% in February 2016 as part of a larger pattern of steady decline. Desktop sales themselves have been on the decline too, with Gartner estimating a 3.7% decline in shipments during Q4 2016 as compared to Q4 2015.

Windows Still The Undisputed King of The Desktop Scene

Despite its falling market share for overall internet usage, Windows OS remains the unequivocal leader in the global desktop operating system market, accounting for 84.1% internet usage share in February 2017. Windows has also maintained its dominance in desktop operating system market with 83.9% share in February 2017, which is slightly down from 89.5% in February 2012. The second most popular desktop OS is Apple’s MacOS with a mere 11.56% of the market share as of February 2017.

While Windows has undoubtedly conquered the desktop, the platform itself is now in decline. The battlefield has shifted, and the future of internet access lies with mobile devices and the Android operating system.

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The Launch of iPhone 8 Could be Delayed Due to Apple’s Big Gamble With Innovation

We are now well into 2017, and with just six months to go until the traditional September launch of iPhone 8, the rumour mill is in full swing. There have been countless reports and leaks all providing information what new innovations Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is going to introduce in its next flagship iPhone. By all early indications, the new iPhone 8 – it may be named “iPhone X” instead – is quickly shaping out to be a complete redesign rather than the iterative updates of the past few years. Innovation and revamps, however, come at a cost and are susceptible to production issues, component availability and other growing pains.

There have been several contradicting reports in recent weeks about when the new iPhone will go into production. Some are suggesting an early start to brace high consumer demand and to ensure proper QA, while others suggest production being delayed until September.

So, the question remains, Will Apple end up paying the price of being too innovative with iPhone 8? Let’s find out.

iPhone 8: New Features Breakdown

According to Forbes, the new iPhone 8 is set to boast an all-glass chassis, with a 5.8 inch curved OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) display which is completely bezel-less. Another major departure is the removal of Touch ID in favour of a new in-house solution. 9to5Mac claim the iPhone 8 will reportedly have a “function area”, with a fingerprint sensor integrated into the glass itself using Authentec’s algorithms and Privaris glass technology. Other significant upgrades are the reported introduction of quick charging and wireless charging features for the first time ever in an iPhone.

So many radical changes in one generation are highly unusual for Apple, and so is the launch of iPhone 8 in anything but September.

The Launch of iPhone 8: Production Issues And Delay

In recent weeks, multiple reports have pointed towards the unlikely occurrence that the production and subsequent launch of iPhone 8 are set to be delayed beyond the traditional launch of Apple iPhone in September. According to Digitimes, one of the main causes for the delay is the production issues surrounding the new “function area”. Ditching Synaptics or Qualcomm’s offerings, Apple seems to have decided to favour an in-house solution for its fingerprint sensor. The production is unlikely to commence before September due to this radical redesign.

launch of iphone 8
The all new “function area” is said to be causing production delays

Another cause for the delay is the all new OLED display. Apple is widely expected to introduce a curved OLED display in the iPhone 8 providing more natural colours and richer blacks. The availability, however, of these screens is in short supply. As stated by The Express, these hi-tech OLED displays are made only by a few select manufacturers, and the manufacture of a sufficient amount of the new displays is expected to delay production. These displays are now in high demand, especially since the rumoured Samsung Galaxy S8 is reportedly going to boast a similar display.

What This Means For Apple And the iPhone 8

As we approach the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, Apple seems to be taking a significant risk with the iPhone 8/iPhone X. Its radical new design along with the flurry of new features could cause a significant number of problems during and after production. As Samsung’s Note 7 fiasco demonstrated last year, pushing too many new technologies can come at the expense of QA and can have potentially disastrous consequences. For a company whose smartphone business is the major driver of profit, such a situation can be very harmful indeed.

While some reports claim a delay in production, Analysts at Bluefin believe that Apple might actually start the production process as soon as June itself. This timeline better fits with Apple’s history of September iPhone launches, while also providing enough time to build up stock and avoiding production issues like the ones that affected the iPhone 6. However, early production would invariably mean the omission of certain key rumoured features. Forbes claims that the curved OLED display is set to be cancelled, with the 2.5D glass used in current generation iPhones to be used instead. According to Cowen and Company, long range wireless charging capabilities are also set to be axed, opting instead for more conventional contact based Qi or Airfuel wireless charging standards.

This is a lower risk model which is more in line with the precedent set by Apple during Tim Cook’s regime as CEO. However, with the new iPhone reportedly set to cost a whopping $1000, it remains to be seen if most customers will be willing to shell out that much money for what is essentially just incremental updates.

Nevertheless, this kind of incremental, safe update pattern has served Apple well in the past, and the new function area, conventional wireless charging, camera improvements and bump in base storage capacity might just be enough to convince users to buy the iPhone 8.

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Apple iOS Devices Fail More Than Android: The Device And App Crash Report Says So [STUDY]

With the rapidly changing climes of modern technology and how we interact with it on a day to day basis, smartphones have very quickly evolved from a premium luxury to a basic necessity. Just like it was with personal computers in the early 2000s, not only does having access to a smartphone afford the user a multitude of opportunities, it is now becoming integrated into important everyday tasks. Today smartphone finds ubiquitous use, especially in education, banking, social networking, media and entertainment-related activities. Now, with smartphone adoption at an all time high and showing no signs of slowing down, it is of immense importance to weed out and identify crippling problems and issues hampering the smartphone user experience, so that they may be rectified appropriately.

Let us take an in-depth look at the various facets and issues which are affecting the smartphone experience.

Apple and iOS Stability On The Decline?

A recently released study by Blancco provides relevant data and points to some surprising trends regarding mobile performance and health. The most startling find is the sharp decline in the reliability and app performance on Apple’s iPhones juxtaposed by a steady improvement by its Android counterparts on the same fronts.

Traditionally, iPhones have been lauded for their impressive build quality, performance and stability. This has traditionally been Apple’s strong suit, with iPhone enthusiasts pointing towards this rationale to emphasise Apple’s superiority as being the “premium smartphone experience”. The report finds a steady increase in failure rates for Apple devices, from a mere 15% in Q4 2015 to a worrying 62% in Q4 2016.

The increasing crash share of iOS devices can be, not necessary, attributed to Apple’s improving market share of late. As a company manufactures more number of devices due to growing demand chances of device crashing elevate. The different demographic and usage preferences of new users put the devices on a rigorous test and result in device failures. Kantar Worldpanel ComTech notes the improvement in iPhone market share following the release of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus during the Christmas holiday period. Similarly, Counterpoint shows the increased adoption of iPhones in Asian markets, dominating the premium smartphone segment in the Indian market with 62% share.

However, a lot of the performance issues are more prevalent on the newer generations of Apple devices, which signifies a lowering standard of Quality control, both in the hardware and software departments. The biggest offenders seem to be the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S with both accounting for 15% and 8% of the total failure rates respectively. The iPhone 6 marked a major change in design and function philosophy for Apple, and the teething pains are evidenced by the high failure rate for these devices. The newer iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are also susceptible to high failure rates, with both accounting for 3% each of the total. These models are plagued with WiFi connectivity issues, touch screen issues, battery drain, media syncing problems and Bluetooth issues. The latter is a considerable cause for consternation because of Apple’s decision to remove the 3.5 mm headphone jack and subsequent push for Bluetooth based audio solutions.


The biggest issues affecting iPhones, however, are overheating problems and crashing apps accounting for 14% and 32% of the performance issues respectively. Apple has been rolling out software updates more frequently than usual of late, and with their ever expanding portfolio of supported devices, the optimisation of these updates seems to have suffered. There are reports of software updates “bricking” devices or causing massive battery drain.

Apps also have a tendency to crash more on iOS devices than on Android, with the crash rate at 57% in Q4 2016, up from 50% in Q2 2016. The key offender is social media, with 7 out of the 10 most crashing apps belonging to this category. These include Instagram at 12%, followed by Facebook and Snapchat at 11% and 9% respectively in Q4 of 2016.

There is cause for hope for Apple yet. The data shows that iPhone failure rates stood constantly at 62% both in Q3 and Q4 of 2016, displaying an improving trend. The app crash rates have also dropped, from 62% in Q3 2016 to 57% in Q4 2016.

A New Performance and Stability King

In stark contrast to Apple’s iOS, most of the new data is very encouraging to the Android platform. Despite losing some ground to iOS in premium segment (devices priced more than $450) in key markets such as US and India, Android maintained its dominance of market share. All this while failure rates on Android devices and lowered considerably, down from 85% in Q4 2015 to nearly half of that at 47% in Q4 2016. The devices suffering the highest failure rates were Samsung (16%), Xiaomi (5%), Motorola (4%) and Lenovo (3%) in Q4 2016. Samsung’s poor performance was padded by the Note 7 fiasco and subsequent recall and high failure rates for the Galaxy S7 Edge (2%) and Galaxy S7(1%).

The data finds Android affected by a different set of problems compared to iOS, with camera, USB issues, signal issues, battery charging and draining being the biggest. For all of their recent strides Android cameras generally still tend to lag behind Apple’s offering, especially in response times and low light conditions. The camera was a consistent problem for Android users as the failure rate increased from 8% in Q3 2016 to 10% in Q4 2016. While the USB glitches and issues reduced from 15% in Q3 2016 to 10% in Q4 2016, and this trend is likely to continue as more and more manufacturers the superior and more reliable USB Type – C standard. Battery issues still pervade the Android ecosystem extensively, ranging in severity from exploding batteries in the Samsung Note 7 to overheating and draining issues in Xiaomi Redmi 3S.


App stability has generally remained quite good on Android at 23%, 25% and 22% in Q2, Q3 and Q4 of 2016, respectively. Social media apps tend to be relatively stable on Android, experiencing minimal crashes. The top three crashing Android apps are IMS services (16%), Address Book (6%) and Google Play Services (5%) in Q4 2016.

We can attribute a lot of the credit towards the improved stability of Android to its evolution and maturity as a platform over the years. Improvement in advanced diagnostic testing has also enabled manufacturers to identify the problem source more accurately, and hence formulate a fix.

The new data flies in the face of conventionally held beliefs and notions regarding smartphones and their operating systems. We have observed a complete role reversal where Android, and not iOS, is now the go-to platform for a consistent, stable and crash free experience.

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Can Google’s Upcoming Pixel 2 Dethrone Apple iPhone?

Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is reportedly working on the successor of its highly appreciated Google Pixel smartphone – Pixel 2. The launch of Google Pixel 2 is expected to take place sometime this year, most probably closer to launch of Apple iPhone 8. The indications are clear, Google doesn’t want to leave any stone unturned to strengthen its position in the premium smartphone segment. To do that, it has to eat into Apple iPhone market. The big question is, can Google Pixel live up to the expectations and, most importantly, can it lure iPhone users who are confined to Apple ecosystem and are loyal to Apple?

Since its launch in June 2007, the iPhone line from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has consistently been among the top rated and most commercially successful smartphones ever to be produced. Apple has fought off competition from many giants of the smartphone industry to claim the numero uno position in the industry hierarchy. In Q4 2016, after five years, Apple managed to dethrone Samsung in the shipments of smartphones.

Despite all above, recent years have seen Apple lose ground to Android in a big way, with manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, Sony, Xiaomi, Oneplus providing tough competition. However, Apple still has a stranglehold on the premium smartphone segment. In fact, Apple manufactures the three most popular smartphones in the US – the iPhone 6S, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Just as the iPhone is the flag-bearer for the iOS platform, Google’s own Nexus line of phones has long since been touted as the “pure android experience”. The Nexus phones have been known for providing high-end hardware and features for a mid-range price.

Pixel Is The New Nexus

All of this changed recently with Google ditching the Nexus line in favour of the new Pixel line of phones. With all the similarities in their approach to smartphone design, the Pixel line can be considered as the spiritual successor to the old Nexus line. With the Pixel line of phones, Google hoped to release a product that would directly compete with the iPhone and even manage to turn a profit.

The Pixel lineup debuted with two models – the Google Pixel and Pixel XL in the October of 2016, within a month of the Apple iPhone launch date. The Pixel phones met with almost universal critical acclaim, with the Pixel phones matching the iPhone both spec-wise and in other hardware features such as the camera, build quality, screen, etc. However, despite all the plaudits, the commercial response to the Pixel phones has been somewhat lukewarm. While both Pixel phones sold fairly well, there is still a ways to go before Google (1.3% of sales) can hope to catch up with the likes of Samsung (28.9% of sales) or Apple (31.3% percent of sales) when it comes to smartphone sales. The Pixel is only the first iteration of Google’s new lineup of generational flagship smartphones. With the Google Pixel 2 expected to release in Q4 of 2017, it is likely to go head to head with the upcoming iPhone 7S and rumoured iPhone 8.

Google Pixel 2 and iPhone 8: Breakdown

Apple is expected to make major design and hardware changes to the iPhone this year, chief among them being the use of a curved OLED display for its “infinity screen”. It is purportedly going to have an edge to edge OLED display with the home button and touch ID ensconced underneath the glass itself. The back of the phone will be made entirely out of glass, instead of the Aluminium of the past few years. Other expected features are wireless charging, facial recognition and an improved camera. Powering all the hardware will be an Apple A11 Fusion chip.

On the other hand, some major upgrades expected in the Google Pixel 2 are a dual camera setup, fast charging, a flat OLED screen and up to 4K resolution. The rumoured inclusion of a water-resistant body is another significant improvement. The Pixel 2 is reportedly going to be powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor coupled with 4 or 6 GB of RAM. The Google Pixel 2 will supposedly be available in 5-inch and 5.7-inch variant.

Can The Pixel 2 Dethrone The King?

The Google Pixel 2 represents a very real and tangible threat to Apple’s position as numero uno in the premium smartphone market. Over the past few years, Android has matured considerably as a platform. A research study published by Blancco shows that Android is now the go to platform for a more reliable, consistent and crash-free smartphone experience. Android phones suffer from much lower failure rates and instances of apps crashing as opposed to iOS.

The Pixel 2 may also have the advantage of a sharper screen, better camera, better battery life. However, it does not seem likely that the Pixel 2 will displace the iPhone 8 as the best selling premium smartphone anytime soon. Apple has cultivated a large and loyal fan-base who are deeply invested in the Apple ecosystem, which is still second to none. Apple’s attractive designs and the popularity of iOS means that the Apple iPhone 8 should continue to maintain its vaunted position at the top of the food chain.

This is backed up by market share trends for the Pixel phones and iPhones which were 1.3% and 12.5% respectively. This supplemented by the immense profitability of Apple’s smartphone business; in Q4 2016, Apple pocketed 92% of total smartphone industry profit, which was made possible by losses suffered by rivals. Google also lacks the robust distribution network required to outsell brands such as Apple and Samsung on such a scale.

Google created something remarkable with the Pixel and Pixel XL. A simple, high construction design with impressive specs and by merging software and hardware in a unique way to create a seamless experience. Now, they look to follow suit and even better themselves with the Pixel 2. One day, probably, Google may overtake Apple in the smartphone race, but it does not seem that that will happen anytime soon.

Can Google's Upcoming Pixel 2 Dethrone Apple iPhone?

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Mobile App User Acquisition Is Cheaper But Retention Is Becoming Expensive [REPORT]

Ever since the unveiling of the Apple iPhone and it revolutionary iOS smartphone Operating System was introduced in 2007, there has been unprecedented growth and innovation in the mobile app development scene. The tech world experienced an extraordinary “app boom” similar to the dot-com bubble of the late nineties. More and more developers got into mobile app development to capitalise on the incredible demand. After years of growth, this is now all set to change. According to usage statistics by Adobe, the “app boom” is now dead. In the ever-changing and rapidly evolving marketplace of mobile apps, the recipes for success are changing and so are the metrics to measure it.

Let’s try to make sense of the current climate of the industry, and where it is heading from here.

App Installation vs App Users’ Retention: A Paradigm Shift

A report from Sensor Tower recently pointed towards a marginal decline in year-over-year app downloads per device in the US, which fell from 35 in 2015 to 33 in 2016. The report also depicts an increase in average user spending. This data points to a stagnation and decline in bulk user acquisition, in favour of a smaller, but “higher quality” user-base with a higher spending rate.

Fiksu’s Mobile Cost Index report paints a similar picture, with costs for user acquisition surprisingly falling month-over-month by 3% on iOS and 19% on Android. However, the Cost Per Purchaser (CPP), which is a much more effective tool for measuring user retention, was up by 21% on iOS and 4% on Android, from December 2016 to January 2017. We see that even though it is now cheaper to achieve a greater number of app installs, it is getting more and more expensive to acquire high-value users; that is, users who will make monetary purchases on the app platform.

All of this data points towards an undergoing paradigm shift in the mobile app industry. For a long while, user acquisition was the top priority for most developers and download numbers were the metrics used to gauge the success of an app. However, of late, the industry looks to be moving away from user acquisition to focus on user retention. This follows the philosophy of “Quality over Quantity”; developers are now more focused on retaining high-value customers than on a large-scale user acquisition only.

Dissecting The Reasons Behind The Shift

We must now ask the question, why has shift in priorities occurred? As smartphone hardware and operating systems have evolved over the years, so has the app development scene. The ever increasing internal storage available in phones, expanding the selection of apps along with the prevalence of Internet and data services have changed consumer habits when it comes to app usage. We now find that users have increased the ability to download a greater number of apps much faster from a saturated and highly competitive marketplace. The flip side is that this had led to the creation of a more discerning customer; users nowadays have expressed a demand for apps fulfilling specialised targeted needs, and first impressions are now more important than ever.

A large part of the reason for this fundamental shift is the emergence of the In-App-Purchases (IAP) and micro-transaction based business model in mobile apps. The basis of the IAP model is focused on user retention and engagement. Since there is no upfront fee involved, the IAP model relies on profits from ad revenues and direct purchases for extra features and an ad-free experience. This system exclusively rewards those who manage to retain their user-base for extended periods of time.

Why Focus on User Retention Over Acquisition

The mobile app marketplace is changing, and it is vital for developers to adapt in order to achieve success. According to Bain & Company, an increase of 5% in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 25% to 95%. Cultivating customer loyalty has multi-faceted advantages. Dazeinfo outlines that word of mouth and recommendations are the second biggest drivers in mobile app installations. A report by Go-Gulf shows that it is also considerably easier to convince existing users to commit to an in-app purchase, with a 60-70% chance of them making a purchase as opposed to a 5-20% chance of purchase for a new user.

There is a need for a shift in mindset for many developers and advertisers in the mobile app industry. Conventional growth drivers and methodology are slowly getting outdated and outpaced by newer techniques in a variable marketplace. Traditional incentivized install systems provide very low user retention rates and an even lower Return On Investment (ROI). In-app ad installs also fare similarly. The key to a successful ROI now lies in targeted advertising, low barrier to entry, increased personalization, community integration and customer service.

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Reliance Jio Collaborates With Samsung to Upgrade and Enhance Its Entire Telecom Infrastructure

Less than 6 months after Reliance Industries Limited (NSE:RELIANCE) changed the face of the Indian telecom industry with the launch of Reliance Jio 4G VoLTE network, Reliance is attempting an encore of their feat. In an uncertain and somewhat volatile time for most of the mobile telecom service provider in India, Reliance Jio is looking to push their advantage and grab the top spot. This has been a big week for Jio, who first announced their aggressive, more-for-less tariff plans for their proposed shift to a paid subscription model. During the joint Samsung-Jio event at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Samsung announced their new “I&G (Infill and Growth) Project” in conjunction with Reliance Jio.

Let’s find out what exactly this means, what it entails for the industry at large, and, more importantly, will Reliance Jio live up to the expectations of users’ after this?

Reliance partners with Samsung For Better Connectivity and Faster Speeds

The primary aim of the “Infill and Growth Project” is to deliver wider LTE coverage for the Reliance Jio service. For all its massive success, Jio has been criticised for its poor connectivity, frequent call drops and poor data speeds. The Infill and Growth project will attempt to mitigate and eliminate this problem by increasing coverage area, improving connectivity inside buildings and dense concrete environments, and providing a consistent high-speed experience regardless of the terrain and geography.

The relationship between Samsung and Reliance is not a new one, going back to 2012 when they signed a turn-key agreement under which Samsung provided the LTE core, base stations, solutions and maintenance services required for Reliance Jio’s VoLTE services. This infrastructure enabled the meteoric rise of Jio as a voice and data service behemoth in the Indian landscape.

With Reliance Jio recently crossing the 100 million subscriber mark in a record time of under 6 months, it remains the fastest growing network service in the world. However, the service has been strained by this extraordinary influx of customers. The I&G project will utilise the 850, 1800 and 2300 MHz band spectrums to upgrade Reliance Jio’s current infrastructure in an ambitious attempt to cover 90% of India’s population, especially in rural areas. Samsung will also be providing Jio with its professional solutions such as Cognitive Traffic Monitoring Optimizer and Quality Monitoring and Analysis (VoMA) to enable for a superior service and end user experience.

Analysts at Credit Suisse, a global financial services company, recently declared Reliance Jio as the biggest data carrier in the world, with data usage of 16,000 TB per day primarily due to video consumption. Jio has been a boon to consumers residing in rural and remote regions of India, with Reliance Jio’s impressive coverage enabling them to remain connected regardless of location. The importance of this cannot be overstated and such coverage can be the nucleus for e-Learning initiatives and in the creation of a truly cashless economy. The partnership with Samsung is a monumental stride in enabling the creation of a “Digital India”.

The Future is 5G

Another important directive of the Infill and Growth project is the rolling out of 5G data services in India in the near future. According to Youngky Kim, President and Head of Network Business at Samsung Electronics, Samsung will create new paradigms for LTE – Advanced Pro and 5G in close cooperation with Jio.

This is a significant announcement which can have far reaching consequences for the Indian telecom Industry. The partnership between Samsung and Jio looks to be a potent one and puts other telecom providers on the clock. In order to compete, they will have to expand and introduce 5G services of their own, lest they risk Reliance Jio significantly eroding their customer base.

Can Jio Do it Again?

Reliance’s outlined plan to shift to a paid subscription model has been met with enthusiasm by the industry and consumer base both. Since Mukesh Ambani’s address on the 21 February 2017, Reliance Jio shares rose in value by 1.36% closing at Rs. 1088.25 while competitor shares depreciated. Now, the collaboration between Samsung and Jio strikes a double blow to their competitors. All of this coupled with Reliance’s significant financial muscle puts them in pole position for the future.

The Samsung-Jio collaboration will be facing its primary competition from a potential partnership between Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Nokia. The two companies are set to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 01 March 2017. Similar to the Infill and Growth project, the MoU will aim to improve 5G connectivity across India, with Nokia helping BSNL in creating a network framework for the future. The main objectives will be the eventual transition to a future-ready 5G network with a big focus on Internet of things (IoT).

The Government of India is pushing for digitisation of India with their Digital India initiative in a big way. There is a significant need for universal availability of data services for objectives of e-Governance, e-Learning and the creation of a truly cashless economy to thrust the nation into the future. This has created a void in the market, one which all the major telecom providers are scrambling to fill. As it stands, Reliance Jio looks poised to do just that.

Brief Mobile Smartphones

The Leaked Videos of Galaxy S8, And What it Means For Samsung Going Forward

One of the biggest highlights of Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona on 26 February 2017 was Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (KRX:005930) announcing that they would be unveiling their next generation flagship smartphone by the end of March. Widely expected to be called the Samsung Galaxy S8, it is one of the most hotly anticipated products of the tech industry this year.

While any extensive details about the Galaxy S8 are shrouded in secrecy, there has been plenty of conjecture from several sources and speculation is rife about what innovation Samsung will bring to the table this time around. Among all this, a few leaked videos of Galaxy S8 have surfaced which supposedly showcase what are the new features of Galaxy S8.

Here are a few things we can expect from Samsung’s new top dog.

Leaked Videos of Galaxy S8 Showcase What to Expect

Sam Mobile recently uploaded videos which presumably show off the design and some new features of the Galaxy S8 smartphone. The videos are short, but they showcase a striking new design featuring minimalistic bezels with the trademark curved edge screens. Samsung seems to have decided to remove the home button completely, instead opting to place the fingerprint scanner at the back of the phone, following in the recent trend established by companies such as Google and Oneplus. Aesthetically the phone looks pretty spectacular, with a huge display-to-body ratio and a seamless metal and glass construction. Samsung’s evolving design language seems to have created a thing of beauty.

Another new feature on exhibition was the Always On Display (AOD), which first debuted on the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7. Samsung, however, looks to have innovated on it, with new features like the ability to display pictures and a more vibrant display being some of the improvements.

Techradar notes that Samsung may only release the Galaxy S8 with curved screen variants, choosing to eschew a flat screen version of the S8 completely. Instead, Samsung will likely roll out two models of the Galaxy S8 with screen sizes of 5.1 inches and 5.5 inches respectively. This is likely a direct response to competitors like Apple who release their flagship smartphones in two different sizes.

One of the most hyped and anticipated features of the Galaxy S8 is the upgrade to a 4K display. Samsung has invested heavily in the VR scene with its Gear VR headset, and the new Samsung Gear VR with controller in partnership with Oculus is set to continue that trend. A 4K display would be instrumental in improving the mobile virtual reality experience and elevating it from a gimmick to a genuine selling point for the Galaxy S8.

Other rumoured improvements include a dual camera setup to challenge Apple’s offering, an 8MP front-facing camera (up from 5 MP in the Galaxy S7), an iris scanner, USB type – C and a larger battery.

Powering all this hardware will be the latest processors from Snapdragon and Exynos. The US models of the Galaxy S8 could be equipped with the rumoured Snapdragon 830, an octa-core processor clocked at 3.2 GHz. Non-US variants could be equipped with the new Exynos 8895 processor which is clocked at 3.0 GHz. Also paired with these processors will be an enormous 6 GB of RAM.

The Way Forward for Samsung

This is a crucial juncture for Samsung’s smartphone division. The successful launch of the Galaxy S8 is of immense importance to Samsung, especially in the context of the last year. The launch and subsequent recall of the Galaxy Note 7 was an unmitigated disaster for Samsung, costing them $2.3 billion in only two months. This has afforded the opportunity for Apple, Samsung’s biggest rival, to gain ground on their rivals and beat them in smartphone shipments for the first time in 5 years. Dazeinfo outlines how Samsung experienced a decline of 5.2% year over year decline in smartphone shipments, while Apple experienced a 4.7% YoY growth to beat Samsung in smartphone shipments worldwide in Q4 2016.

Despite this setback, however, customers have stuck by Samsung and have remained loyal to them. According to a recent poll by Reuters, 91% of the current Samsung smartphone users are likely to purchase their next smartphone from Samsung only. Also, 92% of users are likely to buy another Samsung product in general. The Note 7 fiasco may have hurt Samsung monetarily, but it seems that their brand value has remained unblemished.

Nevertheless, Samsung is under a microscope and all eyes are trained on the launch of the Galaxy S8. In order to stay ahead and maintain their dominance in the market, it is essential that Samsung gets it right this time. Depending on how successful the Galaxy S8 turns out to be, we may see a new market leader emerge, or we may see Samsung solidifying their position as de facto leaders in the smartphone industry.