M-Pulse: GigaOm’s Kevin C. Tofel Talks Smartphones, Smart Homes & 2012 Mobile Predictions

Will 2012 be the year we remotely connect to our smart homes using our smartphones? Can Intel crash the mobile party and make its mark with tablets that stand up to ARM-powered devices? Should we expect a shift in the operating system landscape in favor of Microsoft (with Symbian as a back-up plan)?

This week’s m-pulse — the new vodcast series produced by Rob Woodbridge, founder and owner of UNTETHER.tv, in collaboration with MobileGroove — catches up with Kevin C. Tofel, Mobile site editor at GigaOM.com, where he covers mobile technology and the global wireless industry. Continuing our theme for January, we deep-dive into his list of 16 mobile industry predictions for 2012 and get his take on the week’s hot mobile news.

Rob and I also discuss hot mobile news and the results of a recent survey into our willingness to interact with brands that target us through our social networking profile. The takeaway (further down in this post) provides practical advice for marketers trying to crack the MoSo code. Finally, we recommend a new GigaOm PRO report that looks beyond 2012 to identify the mobile megatrends that will surely define the next three years (and beyond).

Wearable computing

Kevin, a gadget guy and tech aficionado, doesn’t just write about technology. He lives it. His enthusiasm for smart homes and wearable computing (the top two predictions on his thought-provoking list) is based on real-life road tests of smart devices (which he shares in his interview), as well as insights drawn from interviews with industry movers and shapers. Kevin’s take: Watch for wearable computers (specifically those related to monitoring and communicating information about our heath and wellness) to become more mainstream.

A big boost to all this is bound to be the advance of Bluetooth 4.0 (which has already been embraced by Apple and Nokia). By way of background, Bluetooth is an open wireless technology that allows wireless communication over short distances. It’s a secure protocol that connects mobile as well as fixed devices, and could disrupt everything since it effectively enables communication with your device at the application level, as this blog post via ExtemeTech details.

Microsoft & more

In line with the news of day, Kevin and Rob dissected the decline of Research In Motion (RIM) — which was interestingly also one of Kevin’s 2012 predictions. His take: RIM’s missteps and late reaction to competition finally exact a toll. Expect RIM to be bought (mainly for its patents), or become a services-focused company.

Microsoft is a tough one to call. Kevin reported that CES was upbeat about the Windows Phone, a reaction Kevin reads as a positive in Microsoft’s favor. He concludes Windows Phone will see some serious adoption and —in any case — outsell RIM.
However, the picture outside the U.S. is less clear.

I point out that Lumia initially got a lukewarm response in Europe. While I didn’t go into deep detail during the vodcast, I was referring to a December survey by Exane BNP Paribas that showed European consumers had little interest in Nokia’s Lumia, the first smartphone using Microsoft’s Windows Phone software. Specifically, only 2.2 percent of surveyed buyers (1,000 across five countries) said they intended to purchase the Lumia, far behind devices from Apple and Samsung. Meantime, we learn from Bloomberg (according to the average estimate of 22 analysts) that Lumia handsets, which went on sale in Europe in November, probably sold 1.3 million units globally to operators and retailers by end-2011.

Mindshare is a different story, and to make this point I quoted the phenomenal Developer Economics report from VisionMobile (sponsored by BlueVia). It draws from 900+ developer interviews to conclude that “Windows is not yet the third horse in the three-horse mobile race.” However, this could shift if developers begin to see Windows Phone as a commercial viable platform. Kevin and I agree: developer intent and mindshare could shift this.

BTW: This is why I am eager to see the results to the NEW Developer Economics report slated for release in February. With this in mind the report is also a focus at m-pulse in March, when we dedicate the month to issues around developers and the App Economy. Kudos to Andreas Constantinou, Matos Kapetenakis and the rest of the team at VisionMobile for delivering us one of the best industry reports — and filling a critical knowledge gap.

Social media do’s & don’ts for marketers

As part of the m-pulse flow Rob zeroes in on the headlines rocking the mobile space. I, on the other hand, prefer to look at people and the data points that provide us insight into how mobile is impacting our lives at all levels. Obviously, our attitudes and usage are essential data for trend-watchers and companies across the ecosystem…

With that in mind I highlight a rather obscure report from Insight Strategy Group (via Mediapost) looking at social media campaigns and marketing and what people will and will not accept. I have failed to get a copy of the original results, so there’s still a question mark over the methodology.

However, the finding (though focused on online) are also relevant to mobile, our default state when we connect with our social networks in the first place.

Among the findings:

  • 64 percent of people say they “hate” when a company targets them through their social networking profile
  • 58 percent agree that social media marketing is invasive
  • 55 percent believe social networking sites are the best way to give a company feedback and that posting about a product or service on a social site can have a strong impact on a brand
  • 62 percent of those who have been using social sites for more than eight years are following brands, compared to 46 percent of those on social networks for only three to four years, and 20 percent using them for less than a year
  • 54 percent of people say they like it when a company has a page or feed on a social networking site.
  • 58 percent indicate incentives help attract their attention — and the most common reason for following a brand on social networks is to get special news and deals.

Read between the lines, and we have a welcome confirmation of the conversational nature of social media and clear indications of what brand marketers should and shouldn’t do. People don’t want to be followed/stalked by brands. They want conversations on their terms — and like it when brands have a presence on a social networking site.

And what can turn a fan into a brand advocate? Interestingly, exclusive information and deals are effective incentives. This finding jives with what Millennials told me during the series of virtual round tables I conducted on behalf of Optism. My work was to delve into the reasons why Millennials might opt-in to accept advertising. To my surprise, Millennials were lukewarm about freebies and told me it was more important to be one of an in-crowd and get all the products news and deals before their peers.

This survey (mixed with my other research findings) sends a clear message to marketers: respect your customers and don’t target them through their social networking profile. But do be present and available to listen to their feedback and provide input that they welcome (and find non-invasive). You may also turn that one-off conversation into an ongoing exchange with your brand if you provide an incentive people value (such as access to news and deals about they products they love).

Must-read Mobile Anthology

Finally, I raise my goblet of rock and salute The Future Of Mobile: A Segment Analysis by GigaOM PRO. The 115+ page report explores what the future of mobile holds for various segments of the mobile industry. From mobile cloud computing, to location based services, to mobile search and personalization, the authors (all subject matter experts in their respective fields), offer unique viewpoints based on hard market data and research.

I am proud to have contributed the section on Mobile Search, where I discuss the evolution of mobile search and the new breed of mobile search service providers harness Artificial Intelligence (AI) and recommendation to move the market (and our now zero-search experiences) to the next level.

About the author

Peggy Anne Salz

Peggy Anne Salz, Top 30 Mobile Influencer, is the chief analyst and founder of MobileGroove, a top 50 ranked influential destination providing custom research, strategic consulting and Thought Leadership content for the global mobile industry. A nine-time author her work includes two books about mobile apps, as well as dozens of reports, white papers and articles covering mobile marketing, mobile search and social media. Peggy will be a regular here at untetherTV, where her posts will also summarize the key takeaways from Apponomics: The Insider's Guide to A Billion Dollar App Business, a free book you can register to download here.

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