Each week the MEF team curates mobile stories from around the world. Essential news, the latest market insight & data nuggets, the Global News Round-up offers an instant international mobile content and commerce snapshot.
Global News Stories
One week after its debut, Apple’s new mobile wallet is showing promise with consumers. Apple’s rivals in the payments industry, meanwhile, are scrambling to prevent it from being too successful. Even before Apple Pay was announced, a coalition of retailers refused to accept it in their stores. More than 50 companies make up this group, the so-called Merchant Customer Exchange or MCX, including global retail giants like Walmart, Best Buy and Gap Inc. It’s not that these companies don’t want a mobile wallet to truly catch on with consumers. They see the mobile wallet as a way to help retailers understand more about their customers’ shopping habits and, potentially, let merchants avoid the high fees they pay when processing credit card transactions.
A new report by mobile app analytics firm, App Annie, and mobile content and commerce association MEF, has identified Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey and India as the next growth markets for app publishers — with rates of app downloads in these five markets growing substantially between Q3 2013 and Q3 2014.
Brazil topped the charts for app download growth, with 100% growth over this period; followed by Indonesia with 70% growth; Mexico and Turkey on 60% apiece; and India growing by 30%. While China is identified as the largest of the growth markets, app downloads here only grew 10% over the period.
At the WSJD Live global technology conference in Laguna Beach, Calif, on Tuesday, Whisper Chief Executive Michael Heyward for the first time talked extensively about what happened. First, a quick recap. The Guardian recently alleged that when reporters visited Whisper to explore a possible partnership, Whisper executives showed them internal tools and bragged of practices that violated the app’s promise of anonymity. In the past, other news outlets including Buzzfeed and the Guardian had partnered with Whisper in articles on newsworthy topics, such as “What PTSD is Like According to Real Military Veterans.” The newspaper editors were so disturbed by what they learned at Whisper that they cancelled the partnership and instead published a series of scathing articles about the company.
Capping off the first evening of Code/Mobile, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki shared some new numbers about the video-sharing website, revealing that about 50 percent of views are coming from a mobile phone or tablet. The company last reported mobile views at 40 percent. “Mobile is super important. I think it’s important for every business right now,” she said. In addition to talking about YouTube’s growth, Wojcicki also discussed exploring new subscription services, with an ad-free service being one option.
By relying on its supercomputers’ brain power, IBM is going on a mission to help track Ebola as well as government-related issues in Sierra Leone — the country currently most affected by the disease. The BBC reports that citizens can use SMS or voice calls to map out the virus and prevent it from spreading. IBM’s systems would then be able to efficiently curate this data. Scheduled radio broadcasts are set to encourage people while the country’s major telecom operator Airtel has set up a free number which citizens can use to send text messages. It’s estimated that Sierra Leone — which has a population of just under 6 million — has a mobile penetration rate of 38%.
Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system has so far missed out on the smartwatch and fitness tracker fun, but with the new Microsoft Band it’s finally in the game. And what’s more, the Band actually works with more than just Windows-based mobiles: it syncs with your iPhone or Android phone too.
In terms of features, the Microsoft Band covers the field. It has common fitness tracker features like step tracking and more premium features such as GPS and a heart rate monitor. And it also offers features more typically found in smartwatches such as a colour touchscreen, notifications and payments when you’re in Starbucks.
The former head of Google Wallet and longtime PayPal exec, Osama Bedier, is this morning revealing his new company Poynt, a “future-proofed” payment terminal that combines an Android-based tablet with a hardware docking station, and includes support for all modern payment technologies, including traditional magstripe cards, EMV (chip and pin), NFC (Google Wallet and Apple Play), Bluetooth, QR codes, and beacon technology, in an all-in-one device sold at cost.
Palo Alto-based Poynt has raised a Series A round led by Matrix Partners, which includes participation from Webb Investment Network (founded by Visa board member Maynard Webb), Nyca Partners (founded by former Visa VP Hans Morris), and other angels. The size of the round is undisclosed.
On Monday last week, Apple finally launched Apple Pay, the company’s mobile-payment system that only works with the iPhone 6, 6 Plus and the latest iPads. (Though you can’t use iPads for in-store payments.) Even though mobile payments have been around for several years now, Apple Pay is seen by many as a key step toward making paying-by-phone more mainstream due to all the increased attention. Seeing that I have an iPhone 6, I decided to use Apple Pay every day this past week to pay for everything from my groceries to a hot dog at AT&T Park during the World Series. Just to see how they would compare, I also tried using Google Wallet installed on a Samsung Galaxy S5 and a regular ol’ credit card in the same locations.
Forty percent of North American consumers use smartphones to pay for purchases at a merchant location, up from 16 percent two years ago, as millennials and high-income consumers grow increasingly comfortable with mobile payments, according to an Accenture survey.
Millennials and high-income consumers are driving the adoption of new payment techniques, even as lack of information remains the chief reason many people do not use digital currencies, the survey found. The results show that digital payment technologies are gradually winning acceptance as connected devices provide more opportunity for engagement and commerce before, during and after a purchase.
Global News Round-up – These articles are not written by MEF and do not represent any views of individuals, members or the organisation.