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Nearly Third of Automotive Shoppers Use a Mobile Phone to Shop for a Vehicle

In 2012, 31 percent of in-market vehicle shoppers have visited automotive websites via their smartphone, compared with 24 percent in 2011 and 17 percent in 2010. These same shoppers access third party sites and manufacturer sites at similar rates (69% and 68%, respectively). Click here for more.


ArriveHome Launches Real Estate App with REcolorado, Giving Home Shoppers the Fastest Way to See a Property for Sale

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. , Sept.andnbsp;ArriveHome LLC, a real estate technology company, and REcolorado, the provider of the top home search site and largest multiple listing service (MLS) in Colorado , today announced the launch of the new ArriveHome app for iOS and Android mobile devices. Additionally, the two companies announced a partnership that will give REcolorado’s 22,000 subscribers exclusive access to the app. Click here for more.

Cellular News

Google patent offers shoppers driverless taxis

Google has been awarded a patent for an advertising service that could see businesses subsidise the cost of autonomous transport systems to get customers to their physical store.

The system will take into account the potential cost and benefit to the advertiser and weigh up factors such as the consumer’s location and their alternative possible modes of transport to assess how much of a barrier transportation is to the consumer. Google said it would also consider how much the retailer’s rivals would be willing to pay to have a consumer transported to their own business.

The system could also target advertisements to the consumer while they are on their journey, through tailored ads to the customer’s smartphone based on data on their browsing and online shopping history.

Advertisers could also decide whether or not to offer a customer the service based on their purchasing history. They could prioritise spend on customers who consistently use the service and make purchases from the retailer, over those who do not make substantial purchases.

Since Google showcased its driverless car technology in 2011, momentum behind self-driving cars has grown. The US state of Nevada passed a law in March 2012 allowing the operation of autonomous cars in the state, a ruling that was followed by Florida’s courts a month later.

Last month, the UK government also announced that it is looking to foster the development of driverless car technology and will offer a £10m prize fund for a town or city to become a testing ground for driverless cars.

In September 2012, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers forecast that by the year 2040, driverless cars will account for up to 75 per cent of cars on the road worldwide.

Earlier this month, Google banded together leading tech firms and car makers to create an industry alliance aimed at bringing its Android platform into connected cars. Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai and Nvidia have joined Google to form the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA).

Two-Thirds of Holiday Shoppers Will Go Mobile, but Shopping in Stores Remains a Festive Tradition

The tradition of soaking up festive cheer will continue drawing consumers to brick-and-mortar stores this holiday season, but the convenience of mobile will drive an increase in browsing and buying on smartphones, Click here for more.

Cellular News

Mobile Shoppers Prefer Sundays, New Report Finds

Unlike desktop traffic to e-commerce sites, which tends to peak on Mondays and remains stronger during weekdays than on weekends, mobile shopping traffic is highly concentrated on Sundays, Click here for more.


Why wifi is enough for most Christmas iPad shoppers

They sold out of wifi-enabled iPad mini tablets at 8.30am this morning at the flagship Apple store in Regent Street, London. It has been a similar story every day this week. The nice Apple lady in the shop told me that the queues were now starting at around 6.00am.

If I had really wanted to walk away with an iPad mini today, they did still have some cellular-enabled versions available. But they only had the 32GB versions and these were £180 ($ 293) more than the 16GB wifi-only model that I had enquired about. The Apple lady didn’t seem surprised when I hesitated adding that “yes, the wifi-only versions are very popular and we hope to get some more in”.

I remember speaking to a senior executive at a European operator more than a year ago and his telling me that 4G-enabled tablets were going to be a fantastic revenue stream for them. Well, the iPad mini is 4G enabled (even though 4G is only available on one of the UK’s four networks) but it does not appear that this has made it a significantly more attractive proposition – at least in the minds of consumers – than if it was 3G-only.

The reality is that people are opting for the wifi-only versions of the iPad mini because they do not see the value in adding cellular connectivity. First there is the £100 premium for the device and, on top of that, whatever cellular price plan you chose to sign up to.

Is this something that operators should be worried about? Is it inevitable that only a small percentage of people – high-end consumers and business people – will want cellular connectivity on their tablet? We think that yes, it is something that they should be worried about and that no, it is not inevitable that only high-end users will want cellular connectivity.

We have just published our top 10 predictions for the telecoms and media industry in 2013. One of our predictions is about operators and wifi. This is the prediction:

Wifi will become a victim of its own success
There will be a shift in operator sentiment away from public wifi as it becomes evident that the growing availability of free-to-end-user wifi devalues the mobile-broadband business model. Mobile operators will respond by articulating the value of their cellular networks better, but others not affected by this trend will double down on their public Wi-Fi investments to continue to propel the deployment and monetization of wifi.

The apparent preference for wifi-only iPad minis in London is already demonstrating that most people are happy with the wifi connectivity that they can get at home, at work, at their gym or at the local coffee shop. Are there really enough times and places where we need wide-area (cellular) network connectivity?

If operators (or Apple) want to persuade more people to buy cellular-enabled iPad minis, they will have to start introducing new marketing strategies and price plans that persuade people that it could be really useful to have cellular connectivity. Here are a few situations where cellular connectivity could be useful:

As a back-up when the broadband goes down at home: When I was away on business a few months ago and the broadband went down at home, I got a call from my eldest son at 6.00am in the morning because he needed an internet connection at home to finish his homework. At the time, I would happily have paid for a few hours of cellular broadband connectivity.

As back-up for wifi when networks are congested: In Japan and the US in particular, wifi hotspots in city centers and areas such as train stations are already massively congested.

When you go and visit your mum and dad: There’s a good chance that they won’t have wifi. What would you pay for a weekend package?

When you go on holiday – at home or abroad – and there is no wifi in your hotel, campsite or villa.

What is interesting about these scenarios is that they all involve occasional usage. In countries where there is a wide availability of wifi, it is going to be difficult to sell postpaid packages for each and every connectable device because people will not have a consistent, regular requirement for cellular connectivity. The options therefore are either to bundle the device into a shared price plan – which is what Verizon Wireless has done pretty successfully – or introduce a range of new, easy-to-use and affordable prepaid plans for the occasional user.

We are hoping that in 2013 operators will communicate the value of cellular connectivity better and start educating the customers about how and where it may be useful for them.

If they do not, we should not rule out the possibility that Apple will do it for them. Maybe if Apple was an MVNO and offered occasional mobile broadband usage via an app on the Apps store, it might have more success in selling cellular iPad minis in the run-up to Christmas. – telecoms industry news, analysis and opinion