New Mobile Market Research Site

I have been tracking market research from the major analyst houses since 2004. These days there’s much more market research available and I have decided to expand the sources of the listings and also move the market research listing to a separate pinterest style site. It’s called smartphonemarketresearch.com but also covers tablets and anything to do with mobile. The old listing will remain for historical reference.

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Some of the latest research is interesting. For example, two Samsung devices beat the iPhone 5 in a ACSI consumer satisfaction survey, Kantar Wordpanel has a great breakdown of smartphone shipments across 10 main countries and analysis by eMarketer showed that younger people prefer to shop via a mobile app than a mobile web site.

Developer Economics Q3 2013

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Vision Mobile has results of a new developer survey including 6,000 respondents from 115 countries. The free report (registration required) also includes information on OS platform market shares and related insights.

For example…

"There are no profits to be made in handset production itself. In other words, hardware is dead. Instead, value has migrated to upwards in the technology stack (to services) and downwards (to handset components)."

This situation means that it’s very difficult, if not impossible, for OS newcommers to compete…

"Even Microsoft with an estimated over 5 billion dollars invested in Windows Phone has managed to secure a tiny 3% smartphones sales share in 2.5 years since the platform launched."

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The developer survey is full of interesting insights and deeper numbers on the use of HTML in mobile development, developer mindshare and intentshare by mobile OS. There’s also analysis on platform choice vs what developers are trying to achive. There are also numbers on tablet development, revenue models and average revenue per month.

When I read reports such as this I often start wondering what constitutes a ‘developer’. For example, I am an ‘implementing’ developer but my clients might also consider themselves developers. While I don’t do development for intermediaries any more, there are also some types of client who themselves have clients, for example brands, who might also consider themselves as doing mobile development. Similarly, those people working inside companies have managers and end clients who might be seen as developing for mobile.

Vision mobile have sliced developers a different way and have split them into categories based on what they are trying to achieve…

  • Hunters
  • Explorers
  • Guns for hire
  • Hobbyists
  • Product extenders
  • Gold seekers
  • Enterprise
  • Digital content publishers
The report considers the repercussions of their respective motivations.

Smartphone OS Installed Base

communitiesdominatebrands.gifThe indomitable Tomi Ahonen shares some stats from his Phone Book 2012. Of particular interest is the installed base of smartphones, by operating system.

Note that this is the installed base, not recent sales, which means the numbers are more useful for people interested in trying to determine what platforms they should support. Further, they are world numbers which is important as some US-only research, not clearly disclosed as such, tends to be misleading.

  

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Canalys Q2 2012

canalys.gifCanalys released their Q2/2012 figures while I was away last week. I take more interest in Canalys reporting because a) They are World figures (I dislike the way some other researchers quote US figures as if they are World numbers) and b) The numbers are based on shipments and not on something such as use of an ad network that is bound to have some geographical or mobile platform bias.

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Some observations… 

  • Android went from 47.6% to 68.1% market share over a year
  • Windows Phone is definitely a failure now
  • Blackberry has a low market share of only 5.4%
I believe we have now reached the stage where it’s not really worth developing new apps on BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Phone. It’s now iOS (for revenue from paid apps) and Android for reach.

Mobile Stats, Android and Fragmentation

gartner136.gifThe theme today seems to be mobile stats and different ways to view them. First take a look at Gartner’s Q1/2012 stats released today. The interesting part for mobile developers is the breakdown by operating system…

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Android has made a large gain in market share. Symbian is dying fast and Microsoft has less share than Bada that, according to rumour, will be retired soon. If the Gartner stats aren’t enough for you, take a look at the Google sponsored Our Mobile Planet, that allows you to create your own charts based on consumer stats. Finally, if your focus is Android then visit the opensignalmaps fascinating analysis of Android fragmentation and then read how Google is shifting tack to try to reduce fragmentation.

The Enterprise and Mobile Platform Security

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Dimensional Research has a recent free report on The Impact of Mobile Devices on Information Security (pdf) that highlights some of the issues related to enterprise device security. The report is based on a survey of 768 respondents responsible for securing company access in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany and Japan.

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The report shows the dramatic growth in the use of personal devices at work, how iOS is the most used mobile platform, Android is the most risky platform and that mobile devices are driving an increase in security risk. The main problems are seen to be lack of employee awareness, insecure web browing and use of insecure WiFi. Careless employees are seen to be a greater risk than hackers.

Of particular interest to mobile developers targeting the enterprise is a chart showing the most used mobile platforms connecting to corporate networks…

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The top platforms are iOS, BlackBerry and Android. This is a relatively large, quick turnaround from when, only several years ago, Windows Mobile and Symbian (and BlackBerry) used to be the top platforms in enterprise.

Graphics Download for Mobile Apps

imageformats.pngOne of the areas I commonly see startups underestimate is the download of non-photographic graphics. In its simplest form, download via http is trivial on all mobile platforms. However, the complexity manifests itself when you start to consider that different devices have different screen sizes and resizing graphics on the device is undesirable either because upsizing causes fuzzyness, downsizing loses small line detail in shapes and, in any case, downloading larger graphics for later reduction is extremely wasteful on both server resources and data.

Things get slightly more complex when you start to think about the server sending a particular size based on the device. The device type has to be sent to the server, the server has to keep different sizes of the same image and these images have to be created somehow, usually by a human if it’s a non-photographic graphic. What’s more, the server needs to know about all types of device and update these into the future. An additional problem on iOS is avoiding undesirably large downloads via 3G

All these things should influence your initial design from the outset. Keep the graphic design as simple as possible. Every dynamic graphic you add will increase the complexity. Where possible, consider using scalar vector graphics rather than bitmap-based formats. Possibly have different screen layouts for different screen resolutions so you can re-use a same-size graphic in different ways. Think about which devices on which platforms you wish to support as the more you have, the greater the graphical complexity. To spice up app, consider using fixed brand-coloured buttons, list backgrounds and other controls rather than insisting on dynamic bitmaps.

Gartner Q4 2011 Stats

gartner136.gifGartner have just released their worldwide smartphone stats for Q4 2012. Total smartphone sales in 2011 reached 472 million units and accounted for 31 percent of all mobile devices sales, up 58 percent from 2010. Of interest to developers is the table showing platform market share…

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These figures are interesting because they are world figures, not just US numbers as shown by some companies and analysts. The order of magnitude of the various numbers backs up those given by Canalys last week.