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T-Mobile’s Q1 2013 Shows 500K iPhone 5 Sales In One Month, Signs The ‘Un-Carrier’ Plan Is Working

t-mobile

T-Mobile USA has reported its first quarter earnings for 2013, and this marks the first reporting period ever that the newly rebranded “Un-Carrier” has included iPhone 5 sales, which began at T-Mobile April 12, prompting line-ups of interested customers. 500,000 new iPhone 5s were sold during the few weeks they’ve been available so far, T-Mobile reports.

Unlike some other carriers, T-Mobile doesn’t state what percentage of those went to new customers, saying simply that those 500,000 went to a mix of “new and existing customers.” But we can still do a fair comparison of straightforward sales, as Sprint sold 1.5 million iPhones during its most recent quarter, which was a mix of all device types, not just the iPhone 5. That means interest was relatively strong at T-Mobile, since it managed to bring in one-third of that total for the iPhone 5 alone in just a third of the time.

That’s an indication that T-Mobile’s $99 pricing of the iPhone (which is offset by a monthly device lease for subscribers) is likely working well. What isn’t clear yet is how well the Un-Carrier scheme is working: T-Mobile added 3,000 net branded customers during the quarter, but lost 199,000 postpaid subscribers and added 202,000 prepaid users. Those adopting the new Un-Carrier plans still count as postpaid customers, even though they don’t have fixed term contracts.

Like the iPhone 5, the Un-Carrier plans have only been around for about a month of the total quarter, but there are still signs that despite the continued disparity between postpaid and prepaid growth, customers are coming around. Postpaid churn (loss of subscribers) was 1.9 percent, which is the lowest since the second quarter of 2008. The 199,000 subscriber loss was also a 61 percent improvement over the postpaid decline in Q1 2012, meaning that while the carrier still didn’t see positive growth, it may be on the way to turning things around.

In terms of earnings, T-Mobile reported $1.2 billion in EBITDA for the quarter, a sequential improvement of 12.4 percent, but a year-over-year decrease of 7.5 percent. ARPU for branded postpaid declined by 6.3 percent, which T-Mobile says is the result of customers embracing their Value and Simple Choice plans. ARPU for prepaid is increasing, up 11.3 percent, but there’s still a wide gap between the two. Going forward, watching how ARPU is affected by the Un-Carrier plans will be a key metric for determining T-Mobile’s success with that new initiative.

Localytics Adds Features To Complete The Picture For Mobile App Developers And Marketers

localytics

Boston-based Localytics is fleshing out its mobile app analytics and marketing platform in a major way today with a variety of new features to help not just with customer acquisition, but also with monitoring and maintaining customer relationships over the lifetime of an app. The three big new areas Localytics now addresses with its platform are Lifetime Value Tracking, Customer Acquisition Management and Real-Time Funnel Management, all of which serve to help determine long-term engagement value.

Localytics is introducing these new features based on the theory that most marketers spend all their time and money on the front end of the sales cycle, getting people to download the app, and then aren’t really concerned about whether that person will become a quality user over the long term. If you’re used to web marketing trends, it’s like the difference between a low value visitor who comes in from search traffic and doesn’t stay long, and one who is referred by a trusted source and has a much higher chance of becoming a repeat customer. Most web properties, including our own, now value metrics like time spent on page whereas before they cared only about getting page views.

Paying attention to the entire cycle is a key competitive advantage for Localytics, according to CEO Raj Aggarwal, who explained in an interview how it helps his company offers something that mobile marketers won’t be able to find at most of its significant competitors.

“Unlike other vendors in this space, the latest additions to our platform allow our customers to close the loop of the entire customer lifecycle within apps – from acquisition, to funnel optimization to tracking the total customer lifetime value,” he said. “App developers can then leverage that insight to interact with users in a personalized manner and customize the content they receive. No other vendor can deliver the combination of deep insight and action within apps.”

The new features help Localytics users identify which customer segments are driving the most revenue and profit, target the most valuable users with tailored advertising and acquisition outreach efforts, and provide in-app messages aimed at those users. It can also bring in Facebook advertising spend data, and provide long-term looks at how marketing campaigns are shaking out. Finally, there’s more information about how conversion funnels are working to turn people into paying customers, with real-time insights and long-term tracking of the efficacy of any changes made to the process.

This isn’t just good for companies, Localytics argues, but ultimately benefits the consumer, too, since it enables developers to create a better app experience that’s more likely to meet a user’s needs. “The benefit to the end user is that the user will receive a much better experience as the developers can tailor and personalize the app based on a granular understanding of the user’s preferences,” Aggarwal says.

Localytics is essentially trying to move away from a siloed approach to analytics, and providing a more thorough look at an app’s marketing life style is just the first step. Ultimately, the company says that its goal is to help mobile analytics drive real action throughout an organization, not just as it relates to apps, and helping to turn data into a more holistic picture of how a mobile experience can affect a business at the macro level.

Facebook Arrives On Google Glass Thanks To Unofficial Photo Sharing App

facebookmobile

As the days go by and developers get their hands on Glass, the basic apps that we need to survive in the wild and share our photos are popping up. Today, Glass To Facebook is available for those who want to post the moments captured with Glass to the social network. It’s the first third-party app that allows you

The setup is similar to that of other third-party apps like GlassTweet, but requires you to give Facebook permissions to post to your timeline. It only takes a few seconds to get going:

 

 

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After you’ve turned on the Glass To Facebook sharing contact within MyGlass and approve the permissions on Facebook, you’re ready to start posting:

fbconnectJust take a photo and choose the Glass To Facebook option:

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The nice thing about the app is that it creates a photo album for you that will start piling up your Glass-taken photos:

Your photo shows up like any other one would in your friends’ News Feed, too. This means that all of those annoying baby pictures that you see on the daily will now come from the vantage point of the parent’s face. Exciting, I know. On a serious note, it’s nice to see photos from Glass being brought to networks other than Google+, which was the only out of the box option.

While we haven’t heard anything recently about an official Facebook Glass app, we’ve heard that there’s a team of four working on something. What could Facebook look like for Glass? We know that there won’t be ads, since Google isn’t allowing them on the Glass platform as of right now. Aside from that, I wouldn’t mind seeing a Poke pop up on the device.

Facebook Must Make Home A Layer Atop Your Widgets And Homescreen, Not A Replacement

facebook

“Where did my Android go?” is the common refrain of Facebook Home user reviews. We want the widgets and old homescreen we’ve meticulously curated. That’s why Facebook needs to preserve and offer quick access to the phone we’re used to if it’s going to make Home a hit. Facebook’s reading the reviews too, so bet on the early Home updates to make it more of a bonus than a trade-off.

Facebook proclaims “Home is a completely new experience that lets you see the world through people, not apps.” But that completely new experience disrespects the work we’ve done to personalize our phones — arranging apps and putting them into folders, choosing what goes in the coveted first screen spots, and building widgets of real-time information we care about. We shouldn’t have to sacrifice so much to get Home’s added benefits.

Luckily, Facebook has committed to releasing monthly updates for Home, with the first one expected on May 12th. There are plenty of “nice” features it could add, but before Facebook decorates Home, it needs to get the foundation cemented.

Opening The Doors

I spent some time poring through hundreds of Home reviews to get a sense of the public’s perspective. Journalists and techies, including me, focused on features like Cover Feed and Chat Heads. The somewhat complicated install process didn’t faze them much. But the average Joe got quite confused when he downloaded Home only to find his familiar Android experience had been evicted.

home-widgetsPlenty of people like it, and say they get used to it after a while. But many of the 1-star reviews dragging down Home read like this [sic]:

  • “Ugh! Not an intuitive app. Made my phone so frustratingly complicated to use that I uninstalled after just four or five hours. Unless major changes are made including an easy way to get to my home screen I will not reinstall.” – Victoria Wiley
  • “It literally took over my phone. Its almost as if it a whole new OS and not user friendly.” – joe smith
  • “Where are my widgets, not impressed” – David Marner
  • “It gets rid of everything u have and have to reset it” –J Erickson

Judging from these reviews and hundreds more I read, the first change Home needs is to do a better job of walking us through the transformation our phones are undergoing. Many people won’t be sure they’re supposed to select Home when asked which app to “Complete Action Using”. That should be explained up front. Then once Home is fully installed, Facebook should do a deeper tour not only of its own features, but of explaining what happened to the other parts of our phone and how to get back to them.

Preserving Personalization

Home has no widgets and no app folders, and users hate that. It won’t stay that way for long, though. Facebook Director Of Product Adam Mosseri told me when Home debuted that “There’s a lot of stuff we wanted to do in the launcher like folders and widgets. But that’s the beauty of the update cycle. We’re already working on stuff that will come out [in later versions of Home.]“‘

facebook-phone-screenSo is Facebook going to build its own foldering and widget-building system? Perhaps, but that doesn’t actually solve the problem prevalent in Home’s negative reviews. Users don’t want to do redundant work to re-personalize their phone.

That’s why I suspect Facebook will look for a way to integrate our existing folders and widgets within Home. This is a pretty fundamental shift for Home from a replacement launcher to a layer that rides on top of what we’ve already done to our phones. Ideally we’d be able to temporarily push Home aside to reveal our old homescreen and all our customization. Importing the folders and widgets we’ve already made into Home’s own app drawer would work, too.

Right now from Cover Feed you can swipe left for Facebook Messenger, right for the last app you used, and up to open your app favorites screen. I’d imagine Facebook would either add a down swipe to surface our former homescreens lying in wait underneath, or swap in this action for the app favorites up swipe.

With these fixes made, Facebook would get most of the prominence and immersive experience it wants from Home without forcing us to ditch our old system. That erases a huge barrier to installing and enjoying its “apperating system” and could help it grow beyond the 500,000 to 1,000,000 downloads it currently has. There’s a lot of people out there who want people to come before apps, just not instead of them.

Yahoo Wants To Touch People’s Lives “Every Day”, And Is Developing For Google Glass

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What is Yahoo? Marissa Mayer just laid out the company’s identity and future at Wired Business Conference. The key words she repeated over and over was “Every Day”. That’s when Yahoo wants you to use it, and it’s why it’s now developing for Google Glass, acquiring app talent like Astrid, and relaunching products like Yahoo Weather she’s sees as part of your “daily dozen” activities on mobile.

Mayer explained to Wired’s Steven Levy on stage in New York City that the company wants to help you do all the core mobile activities you do each day, including checking news, email, sports, finance, and weather. While other companies are more focused, she said “it’s okay for us to have an overall offering”.What is Yahoo? Marissa Mayer just laid out the company’s identity and future at Wired Business Conference. The key words she repeated over and over was “Every Day”. That’s when Yahoo wants you to use it, and it’s why it’s now developing for Google Glass, acquiring app talent like Astrid, and relaunching products like Yahoo Weather she’s sees as part of your “daily dozen” activities on mobile.

Mayer explained to Wired’s Steven Levy on stage in New York City that the company wants to help you do all the core mobile activities you do each day, including checking news, email, sports, finance, and weather. While other companies are more focused, she said “it’s okay for us to have an overall offering”.

It hasn’t worked too badly. Yahoo now has 300 million mobile users per month, and 700 million on desktop. “Yahoo has an amazing brand. I’m Midwestern and the brand is really strong there.”

The only problem with having so many apps is the switching costs. It takes time to do each of your “daily dozen” activities, but they shouldn’t interrupt your life. That’s why Mayer says Yahoo is developing for Google Glass, which could make its offering a seamless part of your day. Special apps may have to wait, though, as first and foremost she wants to make sure Yahoo’s homepage and other existing products work flawlessly on the tiny Glass screen.

That’s also one reason Yahoo was so excited to acquire news condenser Summly in March. ”Summarization will be a core technology in mobile. Short summaries add value”, especially when you’re trying to keep moving, or are imbibing information through a wearable computing device like Glass.

The renewed focus on the user experience is what ties together Yahoo’s strategy. Rather than just throwing content at people, it wants to make that content enjoyable to consume. It’s not abandoning content by any means, and is planning original programming plus more licensing deals like buy Saturday Night Live clips. But it’s UX that will bring Yahoo back into the spotlight. For example, Mayer says Yahoo hopes to innovate in search by returning results pages in more creative and helpful formats than just lists of links.

Mayer took a moment to tout her new policy against working from home as critical to building enjoyable apps, and despite industry hubbub, she says it was well received internally. She mentioned that the new Yahoo Weather app that integrates Flickr photos couldn’t have been built so fast without the team in the same room. The result was a hit app, that she says got all the downloads they expected for the quarter in the first four days after launch.

Close collaboration is what will let Yahoo move fast and make products for all of us. “The moonshot for Yahoo is being on every smartphone, every tablet, every PC for every Internet user. For me the word portal is somewhat limiting.” Yahoo doesn’t want to just lead you to utility, it wants to be that utility.

mayer-on-stage

LinkedIn, On The Lookout For More Stickiness, Adds Channels With Curated Content On LinkedIn Today

Linkedin

LinkedIn, now at 225 million users, continues to introduce more features to its site to keep people returning to it and staying there for longer. Today it’s the turn of LinkedIn Today, its social news page, which is getting a new feature called Channels. Channels is rolling out starting today to English-speaking users. LinkedIn says that it plans to announce the service formally on Wednesday.

Channels bring together curated content around general subjects like technology, marketing strategies, retail and healthcare — 20 in all, with more getting added soon — with each one combining popular posts from news sources with those from selected people deemed influential (LinkedIn’s list of “influencers”) in the given topic.

Channels will be replacing “industries,” a feature that has been around since LinkedIn first launched LinkedIn Today in 2011. Industries were both more specific in terms of what they covered (eg, internet instead of technology), and also geared at news that was trending on LinkedIn, and specifically among your contacts.

Channels, on the other hand, attempts to be more interdisciplinary and less newsy. It makes use of the idea that there will be people interested in “social media” who are not social media professionals, and who are using LinkedIn as a learning resource rather than just a news source.

“We believe Channels better represents the content and topical conversations professionals are discussing and sharing on LinkedIn, which go beyond specific industries,” said spokesperson Julie Inouye. “Topics like Entrepreneurship and Your Career are applicable to more than just one industry.”

It also gives some more mileage to the hand-picked list of 250+ influencers that LinkedIn introduced in October 2012, with their posts also getting rolled into the channels mix.

It looks like over time, this could also include added multimedia such as presentations using SlideShare and more. And that could also potentially leave the door open for other kinds of additions, too. Although LinkedIn has not said yet where it will be using the technology/services that it picked up when it acquired the Pulse news aggregating app, you can see that the channels section on LinkedIn Today is one place that could become a natural home. (Another, which I’ve pointed out before, is in a revamped LinkedIn iPad and other native tablets app, which did not get upgraded at the same time as the iPhone and Android apps did the other week.)

Product manager Kevin Gu notes that among the other new features that will come along with the new channels will be the ability to see the updates from channels on your own homepage stream; the ability to sort content either by most recent news or most popular features; and a look at the top influencer posts on a given day. On top of this, users will also see channels making their way to their LinkedIn email digests, which will now include influencer posts, trending professional news as well as Slideshare content.

All of this, of course, comes back to how LinkedIn is shaping itself up for its longer-term growth strategy. Last week’s quarterly earnings showed LinkedIn still beating sales targets and earnings estimates, but the company’s stock still took a hit on evidence that revenue growth is slowing down.

In that sense, the move to enhance LinkedIn Today is more about improving the time its audience spends on the site. More time spent on the site could have a subsequent positive effect on advertising, a key revenue source for the company going forward — a model followed by companies like Facebook and Twitter, which have also made moves to introduce features that get users to linger on their pages for longer. Conversely, LinkedIn has confirmed that channels and influencers are not direct routes to revenue in themselves for now.

“Our influencers are not compensated to share their unique insights on LinkedIn and we do not have plans at this time to monetize our Channels pages or our Influencer platform,” Inouye said.

In the last several months, LinkedIn has introduced a number of changes. They’ve included upgraded, more media-enhanced profiles; a Contacts update to add in more “personal assistant” life organizing features; new iPhone and Android apps; an expanded search engine; @mentions in status updates; Klout-style endorsements; and a Recruiter homepage redesign for the site’s most dedicated user vertical. As with many of these other enhancements, LinkedIn Today, and its new channels feature, offer a more slick look and more functionality.

China’s Efforts To Rapidly Build Its 4G Network Is A Boon For Struggling Telecom Gear Makers

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The Chinese government will reportedly begin issuing 4G licenses (link via Google Translate) by the end of this year or early 2014 at the latest, following news that China Mobile is set to take construction bids for its 4G network as soon as this month. The country’s efforts to build out its TD-LTE network as quickly as possible is a potentially lucrative opportunity for telecom equipment makers, which have been hurt by the sluggish global economy.

In addition to domestic operators like Huawei and ZTE, foreign telecom equipment and chip makers hoping to peg their growth to the expansion of China Mobile’s 4G network include Ericsson, Nokia Siemens, Alcatel-Lucent, Qualcomm and Samsung Electronics.

China Mobile said last month that it will spend 190.2 billion yuan ($30.1 billion) on its networks this year, with about a quarter of that amount earmarked for TD-LTE technology. The company, the world’s biggest telecom operator by subscriber number, is expected to build 200,000 TD-LTE bases, in addition to 110,000 3G bases. China Mobile’s 4G subscriber base is forecast to reach 228.8 million in 2017, representing 52 percent of China’s 439.9 million total 4G users, according to estimates by IHS iSuppli.))

Ericsson, the world’s largest 4G vendor, is especially eager to grab a bigger slice of China’s 4G market. “We are not satisfied with the results Ericsson achieved in China Mobile’s first-round 4G bidding last year,” said Mats H. Olsson, senior VP of Ericsson Asia-Pacific, during February’s Mobile World Congress. “In the past Ericsson paid a lot of attention to countries including the United States, Japan and South Korea and mainly focused on the deployment of FDD-LTE networks. Now we have turned our sights on China and TD-LTE technology.”

Domestic telecom operators ZTE and Huawei are expected to land the most 4G network contracts with China’s three major carriers (China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom), however, because they enjoy backing from the Chinese government. Securing contracts is especially important for ZTE because its performance has been lagging behind Huawei.

It is still unclear whether China Mobile and China Telecom will operate TD-LTE networks together or separately, as the rival companies would prefer. China’s third major telecom operator, China Unicom, wants to hold on to 3G TD-SCDMA as long as possible because it has yet to recoup its 100 billion yuan ($16.3 billion) investment in the slower speed network, which it began building in 2007. TD-LTE’s predecessor TD-SCDMA was originally developed to become a global 3G standard, but its use was ultimately limited to China.

Nokia Teases Lumia 928 In Low Light Camera Test, Pits It Against Galaxy S3 & iPhone 5

Nokia

Nokia is teasing the Lumia 928 — a phone it has not officially announced yet, despite all the leaksrumours and, er, magazine ads – in a camera comparison video posted on its U.S. website. All this teasing smells like a new strategy for Nokia to try to manufacture a little hype for the forthcoming Windows Phone 8 flagship, which is apparently heading to Verizon.

The camera comparison pits the Lumia 928 against two of the most hyped smartphones in the tech world: the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the iPhone 5. Although the Lumia device is not identified by name in the actual text or video on the page, the URL is far less coy: http://www.nokia.com/us-en/lumia928

The page does confirm the device will have an 8.7MP PureView camera with Carl Zeiss optics and the optical image stabilization first seen on the Lumia 920. The camera specs are in fact exactly the same as the 920′s. The design, however, looks rather more slab-like — with what look like blunted sides, vs the 920′s rounded edges.

Nokia-Lumia

According to Nokia’s low light camera test — conducted at a fairground in New York — the Lumia has greater colour saturation and sharper image focus than the iPhone 5, and less video noise and sharper image focus than the Galaxy S3. But then Nokia would say that, wouldn’t they?

It’s certainly interesting to note  Nokia has picked on last year’s flagship Galaxy for the comparison, rather than pitting it against Samsung’s latest flagship: the Galaxy S4 (which has a 13MP rear camera).

Nokiapic

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