Google Play in-app sales rise 700% YoY

Consumers are finally becoming comfortable making purchases inside apps, as the latest figures released by Google at its annual I/O Conference reveal.

In the last year, in-app sales on Google Play have grown significantly. At the latest Google I/O Conference, held in San Francisco, the search engine giant confirmed that in-app sales have grown an incredible 700%.

There’s an important message for android app developers in these figures – consumers want to trial apps for free, and only when they are happy with their use are they willing to invest.

Furthermore, Google Play Subscriptions, a product launched only one year ago, have doubled in revenue in each of the last four quarters. Some of the apps using the subscription model, such as Internet radio service Pandora, are even starting to enter the top grossing list.

A key trend revealed by Google is that tablet users are 1.7 times more likely to spend money on an app compared to smartphone users.

In addition, apps that are updated to take advantage of the latest changes to the Android platform generate 2.2 times more revenue than older versions.

Google also announced several new improvements to Google Play development at the I/O Conference including beta testing and staged roll-outs, a public page for highlighting tablet-specific apps, translation services, analytics and monetization tools.

Mobile Apps Are the New Network TV, Without the Ad Dollars

Researcher Flurry reported on Thursday that the audience for mobile apps has hit 58 million in primetime — 8 p.m. — a figure that rivals that of the top three TV networks on a very good night, but revenues are still just a fraction of those of TV.

The IAB estimates that the U.S. mobile ad market brought in $3.4 billion in 2012. The IAB didn’t break out revenues for apps vs. the mobile web, but Flurry has estimated that 80% of mobile activity occurs on apps. Comparatively, Kantar Media calculated that TV advertising accounted for $74 billion in ad revenues in 2012. Even if apps generated 100% of mobile ad revenues, the market would still be just 4.5% that of TV.

Meanwhile, Flurry also found that there are now more monthly users of mobile apps than there are for desktop computers and laptops. Yet the the desktop ad market is still 10 times the size of the mobile ad market in revenues, according to the IAB.

Why?

Michael Becker, managing director of the Mobile Marketing Association, says there are several reasons, but the main ones are a lack of a unified buying infrastructure for mobile apps and a comparatively fragmented market. “Reaching this audience isn’t as easy as making a TV buy,” he says. “That’s the big difference.”

To execute a mobile ad buy, you have to choose between various networks and exchanges and real-time bidding platforms. The ads themselves are also different since they’re often designed to prompt users to take action relatively quickly, which mean fewer branding ads and more direct-response executions. To ensure that the ads are effective, it helps to tailor to them to individual users’ demographics and geographic location. To make things even more complicated, while on desktop, there are basically two operating systems, in mobile there are at least 10, Becker says and “hundreds of browsers and screen sizes.”

The disparity between the reach of advertising via mobile apps and the complexity of the buying process is “both the challenge and the opportunity” says Peter Farago, VP of marketing for Flurry.

Flurry projects that the install base for mobile apps will double over the next year, which might lead some to conclude that mobile is a black hole that is eviscerating the TV and desktop market and leaving behind a much less lucrative ad industry in its wake. Yet eMarketer predicts that TV will continue to grow — and outpace digital advertising — through 2017.

One argument is that even though TV ratings are down — Morgan Stanley analyst Benjamin Swinburne recently found that they fell 50% over the past decade — TV is still the last place where you can find 5 million or more people tuned in at the same time to an ad. You may be able to get in front of 5 million people on Facebook, but if you use a display ad, only about one in 1,000 people will click on it.

Paul Gelb, head of strategy at MoPub, a mobile ad exchange firm, makes a more optimistic argument. In Gelb’s view, mobile ad revenues are still low because the industry is so new. Eventually, he says, mobile will be bigger than TV. “The dollars don’t shift in a meaningful way that’s sustainable overnight,” he says. Yet Gelb points out that bigger advertisers are jumping into mobile — Mondelez (nee Kraft) pledged last year to put 10% of its ad budget into the segment — and that both marketers and advertisers are experimenting to see what works. “Sometimes a blank canvas is a challenge,” Gelb says, noting that “even in TV it took the industry years to get to the 15- and 30-second commercial.”

Infographic: Inside The ‘Explosion in Mobile

A new infographic created by Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) is generating a lot of attention today.

The United Kingdom’s industry association for e-retail presents no shortage of valuable tidbits about mCommerce, which continues to grow at a breakneck pace across multiple continents.

To learn more about the biggest trends in mobile shopping, technology, and communications today, check out the infographic below

Apple Passes 45B Total Unique App Downloads At A Rate Of 800 Per Second With Over $9B Paid To Devs

Apple took time to update investors on the status of its ecosystem on today’s call, revealing that it has crossed the 45 billion total app download mark, just over four months after it crossed the 40 billion download mark back in January. Apps are being downloaded at a rate of 800 per second, from a total pool of 850,000 iOS apps in total, with 350,000 apps designed for iPad alone.

That 350,000 is the same as the number of total iOS apps reported by Apple as of January 2011, just a year after the launch of the iPad. At the time, Apple had only 60,000 iPad apps, which means iPad-specific titles have seen a 483 percent increase in the intervening years.

Apple also revealed that it has App Stores in 155 countries, covering 90 percent of the total iOS user population, and that it has so far paid out more than $9 billion to developers. That’s a $1 billion increase from the total it reported it had paid out to developers as of mid-February.

Apple now pays out $1 billion per quarter to devs, Oppenheimer said at the close of the call, and $4.5 billion or half of the grand total has been paid out during the past four quarters alone.

Samsung Unveils 7-Inch Galaxy Tab 3

Samsung has updated its tablet lineup with the Galaxy Tab 3, a 7-inch tablet running Android 4.1 or Jelly Bean.

The device sports a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 8/16GB of internal storage memory (expandable to 64GB via memory cards), and a 3-megapixel camera on the back, coupled with a 1.3-megapixel one on the front.

The 7-inch screen has a 1024×600 pixel screen, which sounds awfully low by today’s standards, but the device is capable of Full HD video playback.

Samsung has stuffed all that into a 111.1 x 188.0 x 9.9mm package that weighs 302g if you choose the Wi-Fi version, or 306g for the 3G variant.

The Wi-Fi version of the 7-inch Galaxy Tab 3 will be available globally in May, and the 3G version will come in June. Exact pricing and availability will vary by market and will be rolled out “gradually,” Samsung claims.

New iPhone: Small Price Will Mean Big Business

For months we’ve heard rumblings about the forthcoming launch of the so-called “cheap iPhone” – an affordable entry-level iPhone from Apple supposedly coming to market this year.According to comments Tuesday from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, that launch could come as soon as September.

Munster, Business Insider reports, believes that Apple will quickly secure at least 10% or better of the low-end smartphone market.

A low-end iPhone is generally thought of as an iPhone available for $300, well below the average selling price of $620.

How Amazon Is Trying To Create A Huge Mobile Business

U.S. mobile commerce is exploding. Amazon, as a leading ecommerce site, is set to grab a big chunk of that.

But when it comes to mobile, Amazon’s ambitions are anything but limited to ecommerce.

Recent reports from BI Intelligence detail Amazon’s mobile ambitions, analyzing everything from the potential impact of a rumored Amazon smartphone to Amazon’s ability to become a huge player in mobile advertising.

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Here’s a brief overview of Amazon’s mobile ambitions:

Tablet Sales: Amazon’s Kindle tablets and Android tablets had a big third quarter last year. Kindle shipments, including e-readers, jumped 104% in the quarter, likely helped by the early September launch of the new Kindle Fire tablet line and the fact that the 7-inch version began shipping that month. It’s tablets priced very competitively. With the release of the Nexus and the iPad mini, the competition has never been hotter.

Software sales: The Amazon Appstore has been a huge success on the Kindle Fire. Developers make almost as much revenue per active user as they do on iOS. Google Play has many more users, but it does not generate substantially more revenue in the U.S. than the Amazon Appstore. Apple executives reportedly worry that Amazon’s controlled, iTunes-like approach makes it more competitive than other app stores, including one operated by Google. Given strong early results, Amazon shouldn’t have a hard time convincing developers to bring their apps to an Amazon phone.

Media sales: The Kindle Fire is best understood as an interactive catalog which drives sales of all sorts of Amazon products. The Kindle ecosystem includes ebooks (Kindle app), music (Amazon MP3), movies and TV shows (Amazon Prime), and apps. Almost 50 million Americans visited an Amazon site on their smartphones in July. Over 86 million U.S. smartphone owners accessed a retailers’ app or mobile site, meaning 47% went to an Amazon property. The next largest smartphone draw was eBay, which had 33 million visitors with a reach of 31%.

Smartphone Sales: Amazon continues to push forward with the makings of a smartphone platform. The potential platform has been widely rumored but not yet confirmed. The beginnings of a platform strategy are coming together: a recent purchase of 3D mapping startup UpNext, last year’s acquisition of voice recognition software creator Yap, and the launch of a prepaid wireless service in Japan. However, big questions remain about its ability to build out and manage a software platform and design the hardware to deliver it.

Mobile ads: Amazon has the potential to be a huge force in mobile apps development and advertising. Data is the lifeblood of online advertising and Amazon has a unique data trove. It’s not just data on what people like to buy, but data on what recommendations work in getting people to buy things.

Apple Says iOS 7 Unveiling Now Just Weeks Away

The grand unveiling of Apple’s iOS 7 is now just over six weeks away. That’s coming straight from Apple, the Cupertino, California-based tech giant. The company plans to debut iOS 7 at the kick-off of the 2013 Worldwide Developer’s Conference.

Apple confirmed this week that WWDC 2013 will take place June 10 through June 14. Tickets for the annual developer extravaganza went on sale this morning.

“We look forward to gathering at WWDC 2013 with the incredible community of iOS and OS X developers,” says Phil Schiller, the senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple.

In his announcement regarding WWDC this year, Schiller pointed out that the past year has been the most profitable year for App Store developers to date.

“Our developers have had the most prolific and profitable year ever, and we’re excited to show them the latest advances in software technologies and developer tools to help them create innovative new apps,” the executive concluded. “We can’t wait to get new versions of iOS and OS X into their hands at WWDC.”

Microsoft Reportedly Preparing To Jump On The Smartwatch Bandwagon

Apple, Google, LG, and Samsung are all reportedly working on wrist-worn computing devices behind closed doors, and it seems like that little club of big companies may soon get another member. If a new report from the Wall Street Journal is to be believed, Microsoft has been in touch with an undisclosed number of suppliers who have apparently been tasked with delivering components for a smartwatch-like device that supports touch input.

Now that’s not to say that such a Microsoft smartwatch is a done deal just yet. The Journal’s sources couldn’t confirm that it would ever actually see the light of day, and I’d wager that’s because the folks in Redmond aren’t exactly sure themselves. After all, some of the company’s most intriguing potential products died ignominious deaths after being stuck in the research and production pipeline. Remember the Courier? The curious dual-screen tablet was apparently very far along (according to CNET, an employee who worked on Courier said it could’ve been completed in “months”) before Microsoft announced its demise in 2010.

It doesn’t help that the nascent smartwatch market has proven to be a tough one to crack. After all, the prospect of delivering a compelling user experience on a wrist-worn gadget isn’t a new one, and only a few of those devices (like the Pebble) could be considered anything close to successful.

Microsoft knows this all too well — the Redmond-based company debuted its SPOT (“Smart Personal Objects Technology”) data delivery service back at CES 2003, and it wasn’t long before watchmakers like Fossil, Suunto, and Tissot began folding SPOT into their own timepieces. Microsoft toyed around with at least one SPOT watch concept of its own, but as a company that was devoted largely to its software endeavors, it seemed more than happy to leave the finicky business of building watches to others before ultimately killing SPOT in 2008.

That’s not exactly the Microsoft we know today though. Early, fruitful hardware projects like the XBox and its successful successor have paved the way for a Microsoft that’s much more willing to take calculated chances on hardware. One could argue that devices like the Zune and Surface/Surface Pro tablets are more reactions to shifts in the consumer tech industry rather than game-changing innovations in their own right, but that’s not necessarily a problem when it comes to mass market gadgetry.

The winner isn’t usually the company that does things first, it’s the company that does things best. For all we know, Microsoft could be the company best equipped to take the smartwatch concept and bring it to the masses, but we’ll have to wait and see if Redmond actually rises to that particular challenge first.

Study: Paid Search Spend for Mobile is Exploding

The new Q1 2013 Digital Marketing Report by IgnitionOne highlights the significant growth taking place in digital marketing today.

Research by IgnitionOne shows that year-over-year paid search spend for tablets and smartphones are up 112% and 113%, respectively in the US.

According to details made available in a press release today, tablet users were also shown to behave differently from PC users and have higher total engagement.

“Not only are users engaging with more ads on mobile devices, they are also spending more time on marketers’ websites when they do,” said Roger Barnette, President of IgnitionOne. “This creates both opportunities and challenges as marketers adjust to the changing landscape.”

 

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