The tech sector has always been hyper-competitive, and never has this been truer than in 2013. For the likes of Twitter, Samsung and Google, the harvest of 2013 was bountiful. However, from the perspective of Nokia, Microsoft, BlackBerry or the PC industry, it was a year to forget. Here’s a look back at 10 of the big events and trends that shaped the tech sector in 2013. 1. One billion smartphones sold this year – and counting The most important tech story of 2013 didn’t take place with a major product announcement or a Steve Jobs-style keynote speech. Instead, it took place without fanfare at an ordinary mobile phone retailer somewhere deep in suburbia. It was there that a consumer decided to purchase the one billionth smartphone to be sold during 2013. To put that number in perspective, it is projected that 227.3 million tablets shipped worldwide during 2013, 158 million television sets, 180.9 million portable PCs and 134.4 million desktop PCs. Meanwhile, figures from market analysts IDC show smartphones also outsold featurephones worldwide for the first time in history during the first quarter of 2013. What this means is that while smartphones now account for more than half of the 418.6 million mobile phones shipped worldwide each quarter, there are still millions of old-fashioned featurephones being sold each year. Especially in the low-end of the market and in emerging economies, that means there’s plenty of extra room for growth in the future – especially at the low-end of the market. Make no mistake about it. The smartphone industry is big – far bigger than the PC or TV business. And it’s only going to get bigger in 2014. 2. Google Android and Samsung: The juggernaut rolls on The biggest winners from the spectacular, ongoing growth of the smartphone market have been Samsung and Google. Last year, smartphones running Google Android outsold Apple. In 2013, that trend morphed into total industry domination. For example, of the 261.1 million smartphones shipped worldwide during the third quarter of 2013, 211.6 million or over 80% ran Google’s Android operating system. That compares to just 33.8 million iPhones, representing around 12.9% of the market, and a measly 3.6% for Windows Phone. Samsung managed to ship 72.4 million smartphones during the second quarter of 2013 alone, representing around 30.4% of the market – more than double Apple’s sales during the same period. Those device sales also mean increased component orders flowing through the various divisions of the South Korean tech conglomerate, which manufactures everything from semiconductors to batteries and smartphone displays. The growing strength of the South Korean electronics behemoth is demonstrated by its advertising and marketing budget, which has been estimated at around $US14 billion worldwide. To put that figure into perspective, as of 2011, North Korea’s entire national economy was estimated to stand at $US12.385 billion. 3. The PC industry bloodbath While Google and Samsung have had a stellar year in 2013, the same certainly can’t be said for the PC industry. The September quarter was the sixth consecutive quarter of falls, according to Gartner, with shipments falling to 80.2 million units for the quarter from 87.8 million a year earlier. Figures released by IDC forecast PC shipments for the full year to fall 9.7% in 2013. More alarmingly, it appears the emerging middle class in China, India and Brazil aren’t keen on buying computers, with total PC shipments in emerging markets expected to drop from 205.2 million to 185 million this year. Australia and New Zealand led the trend, with a massive 21% year-on-year fall in shipments for first quarter in Australia, along with a more astounding 27% fall in New Zealand. The implosion of the PC market was disastrous for a number of PC makers, including Dell, HP and Acer. In August, HP announced a major shake-up of its senior management team after announcing a large 15% year-on-year drop in net earnings and a 22% drop in revenue from consumer devices during its quarterly results. That same month, Dell reported a massive 72% year-on-year collapse in quarterly earnings, while a consortium including founder Michael Dell, Silver Lake Capital and Microsoft successfully fought off high-profile investor Carl Icahn’s bid for control of the company. And at Acer, founder Stan Shih made a surprise return as interim chairman and president, following the resignation of former chief executive JT Wang and president Jim Wong after the company recorded a record third-quarter loss. The resignations came after Acer announced its consolidated revenues for the third-quarter of 2013 fell 11.8% year-on-year to $US3.11 billion, resulting in an operating loss of $US86.6 million. 4. Surface falls flat On top of falling PC sales and 3.6% Windows Phone market share, the news was dire for Microsoft on another front in 2013. Late last year, Microsoft launched its Surface series of tablets as a first step towards making devices, with the company believed to have manufactured around six million units. The release of the Surface instantly made Microsoft a direct competitor to many of its already struggling PC partners, straining relations in the process. Fast forward to July of this year when Microsoft announced a massive $US900 million writedown on its inventory of unsold tablets. The writedown came less than a week after Microsoft announced a large price cut of $US150 for the struggling product line. Adding insult to injury, Microsoft also revealed it has spent $US898 million advertising the tablets, while only generating $US853 million in sales. According to many leading analysts, the company was believed to have sold just 1.7 million of the six million tablets it had built. To put those numbers in perspective, Apple sells around 14.6 million iPads each quarter, while Samsung sells around 8.8 million. 5. Steve Ballmer resigns During the 1990s, Microsoft was undeniably the 800-pound gorilla of the tech industry. Then, in January 2000, founder Bill Gates stood aside as chief executive, in favour of Steve Ballmer, in order to focus on his philanthropic efforts. Since then, the company has lost much of its former dynamism, and has failed to become the dominant player in a range of new technologies that have emerged since then, including search, tablets, smartphones or social media. In August last year, Vanity Fair magazine journalist Kurt Eichenwald ran a feature exploring why Microsoft fell behind its rivals. A management technique called stack ranking was almost universally blamed. “If you were on a team of 10 people, you walked in the first day knowing that, no matter how good everyone was, two people were going to get a great review, seven were going to get mediocre reviews, and one was going to get a terrible review,” a former software developer told Eichenwald. “It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.” Add the low market share for Windows Phone, poor sales of the Surface and the PC industry bloodbath, and it became clear something had to give at Microsoft. In July, the company announced a major management restructure, with the company’s strategy shifting to focus on “devices and services”. Then, just one month later, Ballmer resigned as chief executive, with stack ranking dumped as a management technique soon after. The Redmond, Washington-based tech giant is currently searching for his replacement. Story continues on page 2. Please click below. 6. Nokia sold for a song Soon after Ballmer’s resignation, the news was overshadowed by an even bigger story. In September, Microsoft announced it was buying Nokia’s smartphone and devices businesses for $US7.2 billion, with the Finnish telecommunications company retaining its Nokia-Siemens services network equipment business and the Nokia brand name. The deal came after Nokia announced its smartphone sales had slumped 27% year-on-year during the second quarter of 2013, with an overall loss of €115 million ($A190 million) for the quarter. The sales plunge was led by the company’s Windows Phone-based Lumia smartphone unit, where shipments fell 27% from 10.2 million units during the second quarter of 2012 to just 7.4 million for the same quarter in 2013. To put that number into perspective, it was a little over one-tenth the number of smartphones sold by Samsung during the same quarter. It was an inglorious end to a company that absolutely dominated the mobile industry through the 1990s and 2000s. As recently as 2010, when Apple sold 47 million smartphones, Nokia managed to sell 104 million. According to prominent industry analysts, such as former Nokia executive Tomi Ahonen, the fateful moment came in February 2011, when then chief executive Stephen Elop made the decision to switch its smartphones to the Windows Phone operating system. Soon after, a leaked internal letter from Elop known as the “burning platform” memo likened the company’s situation in the mobile phone market to a person standing on a burning oil platform. After the takeover was announced, Elop was named as one of the top contenders for the position of Microsoft chief executive. 7. BlackBerry’s failed comeback and takeover attempt It wasn’t just Nokia that had a tough time in the smartphone market at the hands of Samsung and Google. In January, BlackBerry launched its new, all-touch BlackBerry 10 smartphone operating system. The platform, originally scheduled for late 2011, had been delayed by a year, preventing the company launching a flagship phone in 2012. The Australian launch for the first smartphone to run the new platform, the Z10, came in March at a gala event in Sydney hosted by Adam Spencer. A second device using a traditional BlackBerry keyboard, called the Q10, came soon after. While the reviews were generally positive, the new devices failed to be the big comeback success the company’s then-chief executive, Thorsten Heins, had hoped for. By August, the company formed a special five-member panel to examine takeover options after director and Canadian investment guru Prem Watsa quit the board. In its September quarter results, the full carnage was laid bare. The Canadian smartphone maker reported just $US1.6 billion in revenues for the quarter, down 45% year-on-year and 49% quarter-on-quarter. The company also revealed it sold just 3.7 million smartphones for the quarter – and less than half of those ran BlackBerry 10. Total losses came in at $US965 million, including a massive $US934 million inventory writedown against unsold stock of the company’s Z10 smartphone. The company announced more than 4500 staff layoffs, representing nearly 40% of its global workforce, while Heins bought a new private jet. Meanwhile, the company’s rollout of its Messenger app for Android and iOS was frozen due to technical issues with its release. In early November, with banks uncertain of the company’s long-term future, Watsa failed to raise the requisite $4.7 billion for a buyout, instead lending the company $US1 billion. As part of the deal, Heins stood aside as chief executive, replaced by former Sybase chief executive John Chen, with Watsa rejoining the board. Heins received a $US22 million golden parachute for his efforts, significantly less than the $US55.6 million he would have received had the sale gone through. 8. The Twitter IPO Last year, Facebook’s disastrous IPO ended in tears – followed by lawsuits. Thankfully, the outcome was not repeated when its social media rival, Twitter, listed on the New York Stock Exchange in November. After opening at $US26 per share, the company’s share price surged 72.69% in its first trading session. It closed at $US44.90 per share, before dropping slightly to $US44.44 in after-hours trading. Making the result even more amazing was the state of its balance sheet. While the tech giant has revenues of $US534.46 million and around 230 million users worldwide, it has never posted a profit. Despite this, the company now has a market capitalisation north of $US20 billion, with chief executive Dick Costolo claiming the company’s long-term investment strategy has prevented it from chasing profits in the short term. 9. iOS7, iPhones and iPads For Apple, 2013 was a solid if somewhat unspectacular year. In June, the company released a redesigned version of its smartphone and mobile operating system, iOS7, alongside a new version of its Mac OS X desktop operating system, known as Mavericks. It was the year that Apple finally unveiled a low-cost version of its iPhone, known as the iPhone 5c, alongside a new 64-bit flagship smartphone called the iPhone 5s, complete with a 64-bit processor and a fingerprint sensor. Then, in October, the company unveiled a lighter version of its iPad, known as the iPad Air. None of the products had the industry-shaking impact of the unveiling of the Macintosh, iPod, iPhone or iPad. That said, with billions in profits each quarter, a solid second place in the smartphone market and the world’s biggest selling tablet, solid and unspectacular for Apple is better than most companies could dream of. 10. Xbox One and PlayStation 4 launch Last, but certainly not least for gamers, 2013 marked the introduction of next generation games consoles from both Sony and Microsoft. Coming a year after Nintendo launched its Wii U system, Sony announced one million first-day sales of its PlayStation 4 system, but the launch was marred by a number of angry consumers taking to social media to complain about non-functional systems. Sony’s first-day sales were soon matched by the first-day sales of Microsoft’s new Xbox One system. So how will the two new devices perform over the long term? We’ll have to wait until next year to find out! This story first appeared on SmartCompany.
Yesterday, your humble correspondent looked at four key trends in the smartphone industry that every mobile app developer should be aware of. While the figures can be dry, the information is critical, whether you’re planning your start-up or looking for big numbers when you are strategising your future direction. Likewise, coming up with a few hard numbers can be useful if you’re pitching for capital. So, without further ado, here are four more essential trends emerging from the mobile sector: 1. Android dominates over Apple in most other major markets – except Japan Okay, so Android is strong in the US and Australia, but what about the rest of the world? In terms of market share the most competitive major market against Android is Japan. In Japan, Apple claims 47.4% of the market, compared to Android only a notch higher at 48.6%. Across Europe, the story is very different, with Apple claiming 27.5% market share in the UK, compared to Android’s 56.3%. The situation is worse elsewhere in Europe, with Apple trailing 17.5% to 63.3% in France, 14.4% to 71.6% in Italy, 9.5% to 78.7% in Germany and claiming just 2.2% to 90.8% in Spain. As for China, Android’s market share is now at 72.4%, compared to a respectable 20.8% for Apple. And there are a few very good reasons why you should pay attention to China when it comes to mobiles. 2. The world’s biggest smartphone market is China – and it’s huge! Australia’s population stands somewhere around 23 million. The total population of the US is around 310 million. This year, IDC anticipates China’s smartphone market will hit 360 million people. And that’s not including all the people still using older feature phones. Next year, it is projected to hit around 450 million, including around 120 million users on 4G. Now here’s an astounding statistic. The worldwide smartphone market reached 216.2 million units during the first quarter of 2013 according to IDC figures, while China’s shipments stood at 75.28 million. That means China accounted for around one-third (34.8%) of the worldwide market for smartphones. And there’s still a lot more room for growth. The largest carrier in China – China Mobile – is estimated to have around 700 million mobile phone subscribers, including both smartphones and older phones. Kinda makes Australia and New Zealand’s 2.6 million mobile phones per quarter look pathetic in comparison, doesn’t it? 3. Mobile apps are now a multi-billion dollar industry – and growing If you thought China’s mobile market had some big numbers, take a look at the size of the worldwide app industry. According to Gartner, last year there were 63 billion apps downloaded worldwide, including 57.3 billion free apps and 6.6 billion paid apps. Total revenue from apps hit a massive $US18 billion. If you keep in mind that the total population of the Earth is estimated as being somewhere between 6 billion and 7 billion, a number like 6.6 billion paid app downloads starts sounding quite astounding – let alone 63 billion total downloads. This year is on track to be even bigger. Worldwide, we’re on track for a total of 102 billion app downloads, with 92.8 billion free apps downloaded and 9.9 billion paid apps. Gartner predicts those numbers are only going to get bigger. In the year 2017, they anticipate a total of 268 billion apps will be downloaded. That’s right, two hundred and sixty-eight billion apps. Of those, 253 billion will be free and 14 billion will be paid. 4. Most Android users now use a recent version One of the issues when it comes to developing for Android is how much you support legacy versions. Well, the answer is increasingly clear: Don’t bother! According to Google, 48.6% of all devices running Android are now powered by JellyBean (that’s Android 4.1/4.2/4.3). A further 20.6% run the previous version, 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, with 69.2% in total running a recent version of Android. Meanwhile 0.1% of the Android user base is hanging on to 1.6 Donut, 2.1 Eclair or 3.0 Honeycomb. The only old versions to have significant user bases anymore are 2.2 Froyo with 2.2%, and 2.3 Gingerbread on 28.5%. So sure, as far as Android fragmentation exists, much of it is over obsolete versions no-one uses anymore. Time to cash in! The global appetite for apps is huge – and growing. And contrary to popular myth, most of it isn’t in countries where English is the first language. Now, are you going to let this opportunity pass you by? Or are you going to cash in? Get it done – on mobile! Click here to read part one.
Debbie O’Sullivan, senior industry manager at Google, shared her top tips for start-ups and a range of useful extensions at a Google for Entrepreneurs event this week. Rich Flanagan, head of small and medium business marketing at Google Australia, spoke to StartupSmart about how start-ups with limited budgets can make the most of their AdWords spend. Flanagan cautions users that while AdWords is a popular tool, it’s not a get rich quick marketing solution. “It’s true you can launch the account in a few minutes, but it does take a bit of time to see how users are responding to your ads, Flanagan says. “It does take nurturing over time, you won’t turn one dollar into thousands overnight.” Experimentation is key O’Sullivan said testing is key to making the most of Google AdWords. Flanagan added start-ups should always have at least two different versions of an ad running, so they can see what works and retire the underperforming option. “Test different creative in real time and move towards the one that is performing best,” O’Sullivan said, adding it was essential to link AdWords and analytics accounts otherwise AdWords traffic would appear as part of the much broader “organic traffic”. Flanagan says his top tip is to think of AdWords as something that can be iterated quickly over time. “You can start small, to boost one product or service in one city and start to build your confidence,” Flanagan says. Your ad’s ranking is not just about spend, it’s also about quality Start-ups should create different ad groups or campaigns for each product or service so the content can be targeted and closely match your site, said O’Sullivan. “Make sure your campaign mirrors your site, and have one campaign per product and landing page,” she said, adding that the closer your ad matches your site, the higher your quality score will be. Where ads are displayed on the page is calculated based on quality score and the amount the entrepreneur is willing pay in the algorithm-driven ad options. The quality score is managed by an algorithm which factors in site load time, malware and dangerous softwares, and the similarity of the content in the ad and page. Flanagan says the quality score is important. “Some people believe giving us as much money as you can means we’ll put you at the top, but that’s not true. We believe ads are information, and it needs to be relevant. Once you click through there should be no surprises,” he says. Make the ad as engaging as you can The quality score also assesses how engaging the ad is, and Flanagan says there are several best practice solutions. “You definitely want to have a strong call to action. It could be some sort of special offer. Are you mentioning something around price or is seasonal? You want to not be too far away from your competitors’ offerings, but you want your ad to stand out as there will be 10 to 12 ads on the page,” he says. Having a strong call to action that is timely or a significant saving can be boosted by how you write the content as well, right down to the punctuation and capitalising. “Typically we see, depending on the industry and product, that if the first letter of every word is capitalised, it does grab people’s attention. But you can’t have it all caps as that’s screaming on the internet,” Flanagan says. He adds users need to check how their ad appears on multiple devices as the use of mobile phones and tablets increases. Explore extensions to offer more options to users O’Sullivan talked the crowd through a range of extensions to the core AdWords copy, such as the “click to call” button on ads which enables users to get in touch immediately, and social media extensions so users can follow you without even visiting your site. Flanagan adds that the extensions provide sub-links, so there’s deeper richer information in the ad which gives a better experience for users.
Australian entrepreneurs have been urged by Google’s vice president of engineering to tap into a major shift taking place if they’re going to propel their careers, Australia’s start-up sector and the world forward. “We’re in the age of the start-up. There has never been a better time in the history of the planet to launch a company,” Venkat Panchapakesan told a Google for Entrepreneurs Day in Sydney. Panchapakesan told hundreds of entrepreneurs at the event, which is also part of the Startup Spring Festival, that technology, data and culture were converging and changing in three key ways. “Entrepreneurs need to look for fundamental shifts like this, where as nimble businesses they can move in and capture the business of the entire world,” he said. “This is not a pipe dream. This is happening and there are companies trying to use these new problems.” Panchapakesan said the fact computing was going everywhere, transcending beyond digital systems and linking to real life and objects, and being used by everyone offered rich opportunities and new sets of problems for start-ups to explore and exploit. “The everywhere, anywhere, everyone trend means the data is going to explode,” he said. ‘The problems we’re focused on have become much bigger than what Google thought when we launched in 1998.” Panchapakesan outlined these three key changes for StartupSmart in the video below. He added these converging trends were complimented by the rise of crowdfunding and companies such as Google offering their infrastructure, which made launching a start-up cheaper and more manageable than ever. Citing the increasing uptake of mobile internet access, with 6.8 billion mobile phones in operation and 2.1 billion of those using mobile broadband, he said there was an increasingly massive opportunity for entrepreneurs focusing on this development and being ahead of the curve. “It’s also about wearable computing. Wearable computing is arriving, and it’s arriving very fast,” Panchapakesan said, adding that the opportunity in Australia alone was massive, as 80% of Australians are connected to the internet and the country has the fourth highest mobile and second highest tablet penetration rate in the world. He added that while globally scaling a business is never easy, entrepreneurs who are thinking ahead of the curve and paying attention to these emerging trends could launch major companies. “I run Gmail, so I know how many messages we process each day, and I know growth isn’t easy,” Panchapakesan said. “The last 10 years has been the biggest ramp up of start-ups to billion dollar valuations. You could be doing that too.”
Are you trying to pick a name for your business? Looking for something really unique? Old Taskmaster has a radical idea that will make you stand out from the crowd. But first, I need you to imagine a strange land. A land before time. A land before mobile phones and the internet had been invented. Now, for some of you young whippersnappers, I’ll admit it might be tough to imagine, but bear with me. In this strange land, product and company names generally communicated information about the company. Sometimes, a business would be named after its founder. For example, Myer’s department store was founded by Sidney Myer, while Grace Brothers was founded by Albert Edward and Joseph Neal Grace. An alternative was to name products based on where it was from. No prizes for guessing where the cannery for SPC, the Shepparton Preserving Co-operative, was (and yes, it was a farmers’ ‘co-op’ before it was a ‘company’). Others opted for names that describe what the company did. As shocking as it sounds, International Business Machines was an international company that sold business machines. Sure, there were products with misspellings and poor grammar – Old Taskmaster is looking at you, Weet Bix – but those products stood out from the crowd by virtue of their unique name. Even in the early days of the computer revolution, brands like Digital, Commodore, Apple, Radio Shack, Acorn or Atari at least chose sensible names. Of course, times change. Like goth kids in high school playground, everyone decided to be unique – by doing the exact same thing as everyone else. It might have been the influence of rock and roll bands, from the Beatles to Motörhead. It could have been the camel case commands in various programming languages (as if anyone who ever typed ‘WriteLn’ needed another reason to hate Pascal). It was, possibly in large part, due to the success of the iMac and web squatters claiming every word in the dictionary. These days, it seems a start-up name isn’t complete until it’s grammatically incorrect. CamelCase everywhere. Companies insisting the first letter in their company name should be lower case. Needless exclamation marks! Vowels missing. Letters replaced by numb3rs. Then there’s the letters replaced with an upper case X, sort of like the “X Games”. After all, it might not be immediately clear to the casual observer that optimising a database query in PHP is really an extreme sport, like a skydiving contest. That’s before you get the PR reps who insist that a Welsh-looking company name that would not look too out of place near the town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll must be spelled in a particular Pantone shade of red, lower-case italics. With that type of pressure, it can be tough to stand out. Well, Old Taskmaster says this: If you’re choosing a business name, it’s time to do something really radical. Something to make you really stand out against all the other tech start-ups out there. That’s right, it’s time to buy a vowel! No italics, no unnecessary ‘i’ or ‘e’ at the start of your company name. It’s time to really stand out from your competitors – by choosing an old-fashioned, grammatically correct business name! Get it done – today!
Recently, Old Taskmaster travelled from the sleepy hollow known as Parts Unknown into the great sprawl southeast of Melbourne. For those of you who are reading this interstate, the suburb of Pakenham is further southeast of Melbourne’s CBD (56 kilometres) than Penrith is west of Sydney (50 kilometres). To those Sydneysiders complaining about the M4 during peak hour, just be thankful you don’t have to drive down the Monash! Anyway, the reason for the trip was to take a look at the latest mobile phones. While in store, your humble correspondent noticed a rather peculiar promotion. Now, before going any further, here’s a question anyone with a little common sense should have no difficulty answering. Which of these consumers are more likely to sign up for a brand new smartphone? Is it someone who’s lugging around an old, out-of- contract brick in their handbag? Or the one who recently upgraded their mobile phone to one with shiny new features like NFC and is almost certainly still under contract? (For the non-mobile phone geeks, NFC or near field communications is a feature that allows Samsung Galaxy S4 owners to exchange files by being placed back-to-back and other smartphones to be used on services like Visa PayWave.) Well, if you’re BlackBerry, the answer is obvious. They set up a little cardboard display inviting users to touch their NFC-enabled smartphone to find out about a promotion the company’s currently running. Sure, using NFC on a marketing display has some novelty value. But there’s just one tiny little problem. Those with older mobile phones – the people most likely to be looking to upgrade – won’t get the promotion details, because their phones don’t have NFC. Using NFC might be slick, but if your potential customers use old mobile phones, it’s utterly useless. As for the promotion itself? It’s a cashback offer for anyone trading up their smartphone. What this means is someone who bought their phone last week gets a bigger inducement to upgrade than the consumer with the ancient phone. So in effect, there’s a cash incentive for someone who isn’t likely to buy, while those who are likely to buy can’t access all the marketing marital at all. Seriously, who came up with this strategy?! If this is what BlackBerry’s marketing looks like, perhaps their earlier non-marketing strategy should be viewed as wise cash-saving move. Oh, and did I mention the company is now officially up for sale? I wonder why. The lesson for your business is simple. Think about who your potential consumer is likely to be. Then focus on the promotional tools and platforms that are the most likely to reach your target demographic. And don’t use a novel technique if it’s not likely to be effective. Get it done – today!
Start-up operators who sell online need to switch gears and start customising their sales strategy for mobile purchases to take best advantage of the booming online retail trend. The spokesperson for eBay, Megan English, told StartupSmart that the mobile trend was booming and Australian start-ups need to be focused on mobile. “You need to understand how enormous the market opportunity is for mobile sales,” English says. “It’s critical in Australia to think mobile first as that’s the way the trend is going.” Mobile sales through the five-year-old eBay mobile app have grown by 33 times since the first year of the app. In 2012, over $13 billion worth of products were bought via the mobile app, doubling the total in 2011. The company expects to process $20-22 billion worth of transactions through the app in 2013. “From what we can see, the mobile trend doesn’t look like it’s slowing down any time soon,” English says, adding that while eBay hasn’t worked out when mobile sales will outpace desktop browser sales, they expect it to be within five years. English says, while every category has been penetrated by mobile, fashion, car parts and electronic devices are the fastest growing categories. “No matter what you’re selling in whatever category, retailers need to be focused on mobile,” English says. “You need to ask yourself how the image of your product looks on multiple screens, because we know Australians are shopping on multiple devices and they need a consistent experience to feel comfortable and confident to buy.” English says Australians have been the fastest market to buy on their mobile phones, spending more as a percentage of sales on their mobile than any other market. “Australians are in general very tech-savvy and they’re fast adopters,” English says. “It’s important to note people are prepared to spend serious amounts of money on their mobile now too.” She says start-ups who are looking to move their product via mobile apps such as eBay’s need to experiment with the content they upload, but there are a few basic rules. “The image is king on mobile, but a brief description with as much information you can fit in a concise way is the best option, because people are consuming on the go and reading quickly,” English says. “It’s always best to shoot (photograph) on a white background. The image has more clarity and you get the best idea of what the product looks like. Lots of people like to put logos and writing across the image, but we see on eBay that those are not the most successful.” English says eBay will be investing in developing the social media functionality of the app to match the desktop experience. She says there is a growing trend of social sharing as part of the sales process, especially among Gen Y users.
Mobile video start-up Incoming has highlighted the demand for mobile video content after securing $1.1 million from OneVentures, NICTA and the US-based Citrix Startup Accelerator. Incoming, led by chief executive David McKeague, specialises in mobile content delivery for mobile platforms, delivering high-definition video to mobile devices based on user preferences. It pre-loads content using available WiFi networks, eliminating the need for streaming or buffering, while reducing the cost. Incoming TV is available as a mobile app. Some 600,000 users have already downloaded the beta version and three million videos have been played. Last year, Incoming was selected as one of 23 start-ups for Tech23 2012. Now it has secured $1.1 million in seed financing from a number of investors. The round was led by One Ventures, an Australian venture capital firm that invests in innovative companies in the information technology, life sciences and clean technology sectors. Funding also came from NICTA – Australia’s Information and Communications Technology Research Centre of Excellence – and Citrix Startup Accelerator, based in Silicon Valley. Incoming, based at Australian Technology Park in Sydney, is NICTA’s 11th spinout company. Incoming TV has been developed specifically for mobile phones and tablets. Its predictive support for the service draws from information on the user’s device, including contextual data such as time of day, location, usage patterns and interests, and social and physical behaviour. It then applies NICTA’s machine learning techniques to pre-fetch a suitable selection of video material. NICTA research leader Dr Max Ott joins Incoming as its first chief technology officer. Paul Hoff, NICTA's director of technology transfer, told StartupSmart NICTA has invested a total of $400,000 in Incoming. Citrix Startup Accelerator, meanwhile, invests in start-ups creating the next generation of cloud infrastructure services, mobile enterprise solutions and collaboration technologies. In addition to a $250,000 convertible note investment, start-ups have access to an advisory panel and office space in Silicon Valley. According to McKeague, who is currently overseas, Incoming allows mobile networks to be used more proficiently in off-peak periods. “The mobile industry estimates that over 20% of subscribers watch mobile videos on any given day, accounting for over 50% of global mobile data traffic on wireless networks,” he said in a statement. “This is costly for users, carriers and content providers. The Incoming TV service addresses this by pre-loading content using Wi-Fi networks.” Dr Michelle Deaker, managing director of OneVentures and a NICTA board member, said in a statement Incoming has a “significant opportunity” to capture and support video mobile delivery in global markets. “[This means] effectively unlocking 30 to 40% of untapped mobile network capacity, which is likely to be worth up to $20 billion by 2016,” Deaker said in a statement. Michael Harries, chief technology officer of Citrix Startup Accelerator, said in a statement Incoming’s technology is “compelling and complementary” to Citrix offerings. “Citrix Startup Accelerator invests in only the best entrepreneurs and new businesses creating new solutions for today’s problems in cloud infrastructure and mobile,” he said. “We look forward to working with Incoming as they build a world-class business.” According to NICTA chief executive Hugh Durrant-Whyte, Incoming is an “impressive example of NICTA’s research and entrepreneurial capabilities”.
Fred Schebesta had a clear vision when he created Finder.com.au several years ago. But even the most accomplished online entrepreneurs can make mistakes.
Two New Yorkers have created clothes that allow the wearer to stay invisible from infrared scanners used by drones.
YOLO. Swag. Totes. Although Generation Y has a great deal to answer for when it comes to questionable additions to the lexicon, it’s worth remembering that the business world also has its fair share of linguistic aberrations.
Online retail giant eBay earned $US757 million during the final three months of 2012 – its best year yet – prompting an industry expert to issue some key tips to Australian eBay sellers.
Mobile phones will be able to smell, hear and taste within five years, according to IBM. The computer giant expects the gadgets to be able to mimic all five senses by 2018.
Given the sheer volume of public hand-wringing by traditional players such as the resources industry and large retailers over threats to their revenue, it seems that some view innovation as something to be wary of, rather than enthusiastically embraced.
It’s been a big year for business ideas, with everything from Twitter toiler paper to transparent solar panels. Encouragingly, some of the best ideas have come out of unexpected places, such as Nigeria.
Contact lenses of the not-so-distant future will not only help people read text messages – they will also let people receive them.
Sydney-based start-up biNu has snagged $4.3 million from investors including 500 Startups, having already received funds from Google’s Eric Schmidt and Seek co-founder Paul Bassat.
Start-ups can learn from the mistakes of this year’s Shonky award winners, which include Toblerone for its “ridiculous” serving sizes, and waterproofing technology that doesn’t work.
It’s safe to say most men aren’t thinking about business on the night of their buck’s party. But the idea for eStoreReview, founded by Tony Wan and Edward Chan, was set in motion on the way home from Wan’s buck’s night.
While around half of Australia’s small businesses still do not have a website, it appears that those who are keeping pace with the advance of the internet are becoming increasingly savvy in how they use it for marketing purposes.