Media Technology

Nielsen: smartphone subscribers increased 45%, social media dominates app markets

The Nielson company that has told you for years what we’re all watching on television also now reports on mobile media. This quarter’s results show just how much media is being converted to digital and just how fast. Among the key findings cited in their summary:

  • Smartphone subscribers have increased 45% since the same quarter 2010.
  • In just the third quarter, 26m consumers viewed video on their smartphones.
  • 62% of smartphone users have downloaded apps (why else own a smartphone?)
  • The vast majority of smartphone users have used deal sites like Groupon.

Not surprisingly, the study also shows near-saturation of the young adult market, with a whopping 64% of 25-35 year olds owning smartphones. Meanwhile, in the classic PC-era irony that we never seem to quite get away from, Apple is the largest manufacturer of smartphones with 26% of the marketplace, but Android is the top Operating System with 44% of the marketplace.

Most of us with parents will also not be surprised that the older set is getting into the texting game with a vengeance. While young-uns like the texting – 13-17-yo’s receive as many as 3400 texts a month! – the number of messages received by the 55+ set has doubled in two years.

And here’s the kicker: Facebook applications are the single most-used applications on both Android and iPhone platforms. Mobile websites that are popular include the stand-by Google, Facebook and Twitter, respectively.

On the issue of smartphone applications, the download rates are telling. The Apple iOS market remains consistent since 2009, with around 35% of users downloading applications. But Android users are much more download-y, apparently, with an explosive 45% growth over the same two years: 49% of Android users have downloaded an application in the last 30 days before the survey. RIM and Windows are both lagging behind, with a 21% drop for RIM and a 15% drop for Windows.

I wonder if Twitter’s presence in this survey is muted by the fact that its application ecosystem is so varied: while Facebook has its own well-used application, Twitter users tend towards third-party apps such as HootSuite Oosfora and Seesmic. Like Twitter’s linking problem – which they have recently moved to cure with the shortener – Twitter’s proper place in social networking is not accurately calculated because of this flexibility.
Nielsen | State of the Media: Mobile Media Report Q3 2011.


Are cops tracking your phone?

The short answer is yes, they do track your phone if you become somehow involved in an investigation. And without a warrant, that’s supposed to be unconstitutional. A new court victory for the Electronic Freedom Foundation is getting us one step closer to our legal system honoring our Constitution where technology is concerned:

FOIA Victory Will Shed More Light on Warrantless Tracking of Cell Phones | Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday (pdf) that the government must turn over information from criminal prosecutions in which federal law enforcement agencies obtained cell-site location information without a warrant. The suit, filed as part of EFF’s FLAG Project and in conjunction with the ACLU, sought the release of the case numbers and case names in which the government had tracked the location of a person’s cell phone without obtaining a warrant.

Journalism Technology

Engadget shows you how to misinterpret an infographic

For the record, the following headline is *not* incorrect. Repeat: the following headline is *not* incorrect:

OEMs to spend more on semiconductors for wireless devices than computers in 2011 — Engadget.

The trouble is: if you look at the actual attached infographic, that graph makes it quite clear that OEM manufacturers have been paying more for wireless semiconductors in every year except one since 2008:

The other glaring issue is that what a manufacturer pays for hardware does in no way accurately reflect how much equipment they use. Are we meant to understand that the cost of semiconductors has gone up over the last three years? Or that manufacturers are producing more gear? In either case, this graph makes the difference between PC and wireless expenditures seem both negligible and consistent. If there’s a story here, I’m not seeing it.


Your Friday Updates

Kirstin gets the nod, California gets the weed, but not everybody’s happy in today’s DFE News Update:

  • Xerox is the breaking news of the day for Rochester, as it’s earnings report gives some indication why it’s laying off workers: they broke even on earnings this quarter, down from 41 cents per share this time last year. Breaking even is good when you’re a kid paying bills, but it’s bad when you’re a multi-billion dollar, publicly-traded international corporation.
  • A happy switch from eight years of one reality, President Barack Obama (fuckin’ LOVE writing that) affirms a woman’s right to choose as both a woman’s right and a family’s right to privacy on the anniversary of the Roe decision. Protesters on the lawn don’t get their traditional phone call from the president anymore. Shucks, I guess they’ll just have to freeze.
  • Kirstie Gets the Nod!!! Yes, our long statewide nightmare is over, with frickin Patterson finally getting off his ass and picking someone. I’ll probably comment on this more later, with perhaps a roundup of reaction.
  • From the “Obvious But Worth Noting” department, experts predict as much as a 9 percent shrinking of the wireless market in the next year. Duh. It’s a recession.
  • I commented yesterday about Obama’s decision to shut down Gitmo, asserting that a test of that decision would not be long coming. It took one day, actually. A freed Saudi has now become a leader in the al-Qaeda military machine. Joy.
  • Finally, happy news from California: pot crops are abundant this year. As I pointed out in a comment on TPMCafe, Obama could do this country a world of good by just legalizing it, already. Ease our suffering in this time of economic, military and environmental troubles.

Cuba to Allow Unrestricted Cell Service

Of course, it goes without saying that all calls will be monitored. Still, unrestricted cell access opens up the Cuban market to much more revenue (which is what they’re after) and allows Cubans much less restricted access to information in the outside world. Will this new found freedom also extend to Wireless Internet?

Cuba allows unrestricted cellular phone service | Reuters

The Cuban telecommunications monopoly ETECSA said it would begin mobile phone service for the general public in the next few days.

“ETECSA is able to offer mobile phone service to the public,” it said in a statement published in the Communist Party newspaper Granma.


The Television / PC Divide

Kodak’s technology blog, A Thousand Nerds, has an interesting post about the changing nature of consumer entertainment demand and how that will affect the way content gets delivered to its audience. It may be that we finally bridge the Television / PC divide by eliminating both from the equation:

A Thousand Nerds: A Kodak blog about innovation

What does this all mean? The TV and Internet as we know it are about to undergo massive change. TV will be replaced by connected displays able to deliver a full range of multimedia output. Sitting in front of the computer clicking away will also be replaced by new ways of interacting with these connected displays as the interaction transforms from passive consumption to two-way interaction. You can also expect more changes within the industry as companies consolidate, form new strategic partnerships, and realign offerings around multimedia.

Not that PCs will go away, or televisions either. But after decades of attempts to somehow merge the two (Windows Media Center, WebTV, etc), its seemed very clear that the two do not go together. The problem is largely one of furniture, however: people sit at desks to use their PCs and lounge on couches to watch TV, neither of which providing a comfortable environment to swap roles.


“Openness” as Defined by Verizon

Verizon plans on holding a developer’s conference in mid-March to show developers what can be expected of Verizon’s new “open” network rules. Those of you watching this story may know that, while the move to open the network was widely lauded, the details of that openness have been modified somewhat.  Existing customers (all 64 million of them) will not be able to unblock their phones for use win that brave new world, for example.

And of course, even the most optimistic of observers realize that the move to open the network came as a response to Congress’ new broadband rules requiring networks operating on the new 700mhz bandwidth to be unrestricted. These rules, by the way, are the same as those that are forcing television stations onto High Def signals.  In our increasingly wireless world, Congress and the FCC are trying to free up bandwidth, but in doing so, they are also imposing rules to increase competition and information freedom.

I know that a lot of my readers will find all this remarkably unimportant, with everything else that is going on right now.  But consider the fact that we all write and read the blogs of our choices on an inherently open system called “The Internet.”  That Internet’s content is increasingly being viewed and written on wireless systems such as Verizon, AT&T and Sprint control.  It is very much in the interest of the blogging community to keep information flow free.


Verizon Adopts OHA and Linux Handsets

Verizon has announced that they’re planning on adopting Google’s new Open Handset Alliance, a consortium of manufacturers working towards an Open-Source wireless networking scheme.  There is some concern that government regulators may soon force open networks on providers whether they like it or not.  Great run-down with good linked articles by


Verizon Open Network? Great. Can I MoBlog, Now?

About a year or so ago, now, I paid heavily for a 1.2 MegaPixel camera phone with the express intent to be able to moblog to my heart’s content. The term means posting blog entries of photos directly as they happened, from the phone to the blog. Well, forget that, Charlie. Verizon blocks their phones so that you can only post pictures to just one place: their crappy site.

Well, now Verizon says that they’re going to open the network to non-proprietary software, which for you non-geeks means stuff not created by them, by 2008:

Verizon Wireless promises openness to any software | Technology | Reuters

Verizon Wireless promised on Tuesday to allow its customers to download any application they want to their cell phones by the end of 2008, appearing to cave in to demands by Web search leader Google Inc.

Well, they may indeed be caving to Google, but in reality, this is one benefit of the iPhone. The iPhonies have been carping about not being able to write software for the iPhone since it was released, and Macintosh has recently capitulated. That means that if you get an iPhone, you’ll get to use whatever Open-Source or otherwise neat little toy you want to. . . on AT&T’s network.

So you see, it’s not in anyone’s interest to block software if they plan on competing with either AT&T or Macintosh. Moreover, not only is this pressure put on Verizon by AT&T – not only is it a race for network supremacy – but there is also a vested interest by companies like Motorola, who is up to their asses in Verizon, to open that network.

It should go without saying to anyone who has a nose for networking news that where there is open software, there is a threat of viruses. Nevertheless, an open network is a good thing for all of us, because it eventually means an end to the mindlessly-proprietary network schemes of the past and a more open, mobile world for us to collaborate in.

Oh, yeah. And moblogging!