Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mighty Text, Mobile Diaries, and Spotify for All

Google has teamed with Sterling brands and Ipsos to investigate consumer attitudes and behaviors associated with certain digital activities, specifically when using multiple screens.  The study involved 1,611 participants who recorded 7,955 hours of media activities logged in a mobile diary over a 24-hour period.

That consumers use multiple screens is not news; nor is the observation that multi-screen behavior has moved mainstream.  I think that this study is particularly valuable because it adds behavioral and psychological weight to our multi-screen habits.

The study finds that the “majority of our daily media interactions are screen-based.”  In fact, 90% of all media interactions are screen-based: smartphone, PC/laptop, tablet, television.  Conversely, 10% of all media interactions are non-screen-based (radio, newspaper, magazines).   And context drives device choice, including time available, goal, location, and attitude and state-of-mind.  Not surprisingly, the research adds weight to findings that might be obvious.  Computers keep us productive and informed; smartphones keep us connected; tablets keep us entertained.

According to the study, there are two modes of multi-screening; sequential usage and simultaneous usage.  The former describes moving from one device to another at different times to accomplish a task.  The latter describes using more than one device at the same time, for either a related or unrelated activity.  Sequential screening is common and largely completed within a day.  Top activities while in this mode are Internet browsing, social networking, and online shopping.  The prevalence of such usage suggests that businesses save their shopping progress between devices, such including “shopping carts” and “signed-in” experiences.

Smartphones are the most frequent companion devices during simultaneous usage.  The research indicates that “content viewed on one device can trigger specific behavior on the other,” suggesting businesses might not want to limit their conversion goals and calls to action.  Smartphones are the centerpiece of daily media use and serve as the most common starting point for activities across multiple screens.  Therefore, mobile is a business imperative.

I’ll leave the specifics of this important research on that note and reflect on the growing importance of the smartphone in other contexts.  I’ve been going to mobile conferences for at least a decade and every year the bar for mobile advertising revenue ticks up a notch--$20 billion in 2012?—and that reality seems never to come to pass.  I’ve long thought mobile advocates were beating the wrong drum.  Someone might yet solve the mobile advertising dilemma, but nonetheless the reason the smartphone is in ascendency is its growing importance in the enterprise and transaction zone, as the above research makes clear.

Qualcomm recently announced the North American regional winner of its 2012 QPrize venture investment competition.  Mighty Text is “an android-based application that enables people to send SMS messages from their computer or any device via the cloud.  It syncs directly with the user’s Android phone and number, making life easier for people who send and receive text messages and get phone calls while in front of a computer.”  Mighty Text gets $100,000 in venture funding and a chance to compete for another $150,000 attached to the QPrize Global Grand Prize competition in early 2013.

Stacey Higginbotham at GigaOM sees more than another tech prize winner here.  She notes that this “IP testing app and the nine other finalists are also a microcosm of Qualcomm’s views about what mobility can bring to computing and how to design for mobile.”  In her opinion, mobile isn’t a separate platform.  Rather, everything should be built to tie back into the mobile device.  She concludes that for Qualcomm this is a “fundamental shift in worldview and some companies like Spotify and Mighty Text get it and some companies are struggling, such as Facebook.”

By way of full disclosure, I have consulted for Qualcomm.  That said, it’s hard to disagree with Mr. Higginbotham’s conclusions.  Certainly the various app stores have only added value to the smartphone in the enterprise zone.

Perhaps equally important is her remark about Spotify.  Hamish McKenzie has waxed eloquent at Pandodaily about a Spotify for magazines, suggesting publishers break up the magazine bundles and present stories on an individual basis with a large dose of social.  If you add sponsored subscription bundles and a content/data arrangement with carriers and advertisers, you might have scale and a business model, one article at a time.

Did I mention the smartphone? 

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