The biggest mobile show, the Mobile World Congress, starts next week in Barcelona, Spain. It comes at an interesting time. Attendees will find it no longer makes sense to think about which device, or screen, is of primary importance to users. Google reports findings that 90 percent of users move sequentially between several screens (TV, phone, desktop computer and tablet) to accomplish tasks.
Google, wanting to more fully exploit ad opportunities on all devices, has revamped AdWords to require that all ad campaigns include mobile. The GPS-based fitness watch market looks like it is on a steep curve upward, and feasible smartphone GPS watches are available. Rumor says Facebook is going to start tracking users’ locations at all times to be able to cull more ad revenue from individual’s preferences and geo life.
Analytics firm Flurry tracked mobile app usage during the Super Bowl and found that overall app usage declined by less than 5 percent during the Super Bowl, compared to same time period on the prior Sunday. A large amount of consumers’ attention was spent in apps, even as they sat in front of their TVs on the biggest football day of the year. Surprisingly, app usage did not greatly differ between commercials and game play. Mobile app usage peaked during the game’s power outage and declined during Beyonce’s apparently riveting half-time show.
Google Requires Mobile Advertising. Citing concerns that the shift from desktop to smartphones and tablets is damaging its bottom line, Google is revamping its AdWords advertising platform to integrate ad campaigns across all device screens. In fact, Google indicated that it will require all advertisers to pay for mobile ads even if they only wish to reach consumers on desktops. The revamp will allow customers to use contextual factors like location, time of day and device type to control integrated campaigns.
Google provides an example of how a user’s location and device type could change the advertising message. “For example, a pizza restaurant probably wants to show one ad to someone searching for ‘pizza’ at 1 p.m. on their PC at work (perhaps a link to an online order form or menu), and a different ad to someone searching for ‘pizza’ at 8 p.m. on a smartphone a half-mile from the restaurant (perhaps a click-to-call phone number and restaurant locator),” reads Google’s blog.
Will Apple Take Control of Your Wrist? Rumors continue that Apple will release a GPS-based fitness watch in 2013. Whether Apple enters the market or not, the GPS fitness market is huge and growing. The GPS fitness watch market is set to reach $1.07 billion in 2013, predicts ABI Research. Cellular connected GPS fitness watches like the I’m Watch may further speed this market. “There have already been unfounded rumors around Apple in 2013, so let’s wait and see. If an Apple watch did feature integrated GPS, it would no doubt significantly boost shipment forecasts in 2013,” asserts Dominique Bonte of ABI. Some start-ups in the GPS watch category have joined the action including Leikr, Pebble, Basis and others.
Facebook Is Watching. Is it possible that the relationship between Facebook and Google can get even more tense? According to a Bloomberg article, Facebook is developing a smartphone application that will track the location of its users. The app is said to be scheduled for release by mid-March, and would run on handsets in the background even when the Facebook app or the phone isn’t open or in use. The location data would help Facebook capture more advertising revenue as ads can be more targeted with information about a user’s location and habits. The project is said to be headed by an ex-Googler and talent from Glancee and Gowalla, both of whom were purchased by Google.
Privacy concerns with Facebook location tracking will undoubtedly be raised. Currently, Facebook records the GPS coordinates of users when they post status updates or photos from their phones, or check into a venue. Tracking users 24/7 is another thing. Facebook’s current location-sharing policy seems to cover them carte blanche. It allows the use of data “to serve you ads that might be more relevant,” and “to tell you and your friends about people or events nearby, or offer deals to you that you might be interested in.”
Will Windows and BlackBerry Smartphones Succeed? Will there be a crack, even a tiny one, in the duopoly of iOS and Android? The biggest worry for Microsoft and BlackBerry is if initial sales of their smartphones are too small to excite developer interest. Without abundant applications, consumers won’t continue to buy these phones. ABI Research is predicting that the demand will be strong enough, and is forecasting a BlackBerry installed base of 20 million and Windows smartphone base of 45 million by year-end.
Open Geospatial Consortium Location Standards for Next-Generation LBS. The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) is having a free session and reception at the Mobile World Congress for mobile developers, location data providers, network operators and LBS service users. Attendees will learn the latest in open standards development. The event is being held on February 27, 2013 in Barcelona. Register for free.