Be all you can be. Being location enabled or “hyper local” isn’t enough. Mobile applications are also trying to increase discoverability, push into Group-On couponing territory, and proactively deliver more relevant recommendations to users. Loopt announced limited-time and perishable inventory deals to users within proximity. Google has introduced an “open now” filter to local mobile search to find nearby businesses that are open. Not content to focused on their core check-in business (“I am the proud mayor of Barney’s Beanery”), foursquare is now recommending places near you, based on previous check-in activities, user profiles, and what your friends like. On the foursquare blog, Dennis Crowley suggests “You’ll be surprised by what you get when searching for really specific things, like ‘’80s music,’ ‘fireplaces,’ ‘pancakes,’ ‘bratwurst,’ and ‘romantic’.” Evenings with Crowley must be, well, surprising. Very.
Mass geo shopping. It is large-scale and geo-specific and, most interestingly, it comes from a carrier. AT&T and Placecast together launched ShopAlerts. AT&T subscribers can opt in and receive offers, rewards, and coupons based on each individual’s geolocation. AT&T will create geofences (virtual geographic perimeters) around retailers, events, or geographic areas to optimize relevancy. This isn’t so different than what some of the location-enabled social network applications (Booyah!, foursquare, Loopt) are doing, but it is significant because of the scale and reach that a carrier brings.
Making money? Ever since Google offered free mobile navigation and others app providers followed suit, content providers have struggled to find ways to monetize their applications. Many have looked to mobile advertising for revenue. But mobile advertising hasn’t developed quite as fast as many predicted, although it is still a growing and big market. Apple’s iAD mobile advertising efforts have been a disappointment. Industry insiders say iAD fill rates have fallen to less than 10 percent and Apple has halved its minimum advertising purchase to $500,000.
In-app money tree. Transactions that occur within an application are making big money for application developers. For both free and premium apps, in-app transactions now equal 49 percent of iPhone developer income and 29 percent of iPad revenue, according to analytics firm Disitmo. This is useful for the person who may buy a navigation app and wants to upgrade to real-time traffic. Now users don’t need to be referred outside the application to a website to make the transaction. Apple and Google both recently announced in-app subscription platforms. Apple has created a firestorm by demanding 30 percent of in-app subscription fees. Google takes 10 percent.
How much for the sword? It is jaw dropping. In-app purchases of virtual goods is overtaking advertising in top categories on the Apple platform. Flurry Analytics reports that in certain Apple app categories, “During 2010 revenue increasingly shifts from advertising to virtual goods sales until reaching a proportion of more than 80 percent from virtual goods.” You may be asking, ‘What is a virtual good?’ A gamer may want a virtual lightsaber, mansion, or respect points to enhance the game experience. My advice is to spend the wad on respect points.
By a smidge, the winner is… Android took over RIM’s long-time run as king of smartphones. Devices that run Google’s Android operating system have taken the lead in the U.S., according to new data from The Nielsen Company. Now Android is the front runner in the U.S. smartphone market with 29 percent share, with Apple’s iOS and Rim’s BlackBerry both at 27 percent. Windows lags at 10 percent, but watch Android’s lead fatten. The much-anticipated Verizon iPhone hasn’t had the impact on Apple sales once imagined. Nielsen also reports that subscribers between the ages of 25 and 34 account for 27 percent of all U.S. smartphone users across all platforms.
Threat to GPS. You may be following the very serious interference issue that threatens the GPS signal. LightSquared is developing high wireless bandwidth capabilities (4G-LTE) for wireless operators. LightSquared received an unnervingly fast-tracked FCC conditional waiver that permits it to broadcast a new terrestrial broadband service from 1,500-watt terrestrial transmitters. This will be in the portion of the L Band that is immediately adjacent to the band used by GPS. The FCC waiver was required as LightSquared’s FCC license only extended to dual-mode phones, but LightSquared wants to offer the option of terrestrial-only, hence the waiver. According to industry experts, the LightSquared terrestrial broadband signal is about 1 billion times the received power of the GPS signal on Earth. This may result in wide-scale GPS interference and jamming worldwide. As a result of ensuing uproar, a working group conducted by LightSquared and the U.S GPS Industry Council was formed to study the issue.
Upward bound. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has had his hands full in the fight of network neutrality and the creation of a national broadband plan. Now there are rumors, not quiet ones either, that he may be nominated by President Obama to be the next Secretary of Commerce.
Next stop, Orlando for CTIA.