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Mobile trends 2012-2013

comScore has released its latest Mobile Future in Focus report for the US (a separate report for the UK is also available).  The report analyses the mobile landscape in 2012 and sets about making predictions for 2013.

Mobile trends 2012

Social networking

  • Facebook accounts for 83% of US social media usage
  • Tumblr is in second place – with 5.7%
  • Driven by the visual web e.g. the emergence and popularity of Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram
  • Shifting towards ‘content monetisation’


  • Google’s share of the search market in the US increased by less than 1% to 66.7%
  • Microsoft Bing was up 1.2% to 16.3%
  • Yahoo was in third place with 12.2% – down 2.3%
  • Shift to searching on mobile devices
  • ‘Core search’ declined for the first time in 2012
    • Searchers are shifting to vertical search – e.g. searching directly on eBay or Facebook

Digital video

  • 75 million online video viewers per day in the US
  • Increasing numbers viewing favourite shows digitally
  • In 2012 there were 450 billion U.S. content video views
  • Google sites (YouTube) were the top US video content properties with 42% of the market
    • Hulu was in second place; Netflix seventh


  • Mobile transactions accounted for 11% of e-commerce spending in 2012
  • Consumers using smartphones to help them shop in-stores


  • Smartphones surpassed the 50% penetration point in 2012
  • 80% of time spent on smartphones is spent using apps
  • Facebook is the leading mobile app
    • Google maps is second; YouTube is sixth
    • Smartphones and tablets account for 37% of all time spent online

Mobile trends 2013

com.Score’s predictions include:

  • consumer platform shifts mean businesses must work hard to stay ahead of consumers’ anytime anywhere demands
  • organisations will develop more integrated, cross platform social media strategies
  • social search increasingly important, with 2013 likely focusing on ‘local social search’
  • increasingly sophisticated consumers, using devices to compare deals and make transactions
  • Big data will require organisations who can deliver big insights.

You can download the report here.

Lower teen crime rates – is the internet responsible?

Apparently the peak age for teenage offending is 15.  A new report claims
there has been a drastic improvement in the behaviour of 15 year olds in Sweden
since the mid-1990s – and researchers are theorising that the internet is (at
least partially) responsible.

A report by the Crime Prevention Council of Sweden (Brottsförebyggande rådet -
or Brå) based on a survey of 6,500 15-year olds, found for example that 16% of
15-year olds admitted to vandalising public property (down from 32% in 1995).

Researchers are speculating that changes in teen habits are contributing to
this continuing improvement in behaviour.  Fewer teenagers are meeting up
with friends or hanging around in the ‘real world’ and are socialising online

Meanwhile in the UK in 2012 there was an 8% overall reduction in crime – and
observers and analysts are debating why.  One argument is that there are
fewer ‘crimes of opportunity’ for young offenders (e.g. cars are harder to
break into). There has certainly been a reduction in the amount of alcohol
consumed in the 16-25 year old age group.  Reports of vandalism began to
decline in 2007 – just as smartphones were taking off.  A youth worker, quoted in the Guardian, states there are “so many [other] things for kids to do” these days.

Women in IT and Science

Recent research in the US reveals that women are ‘outnumbered and out-earned’ in science.  Men are taking home an average of $1,117 to a woman’s $853 per week while the mean suggested starting salary for women was lower.  The research also found that all women –whether they had children or not – were at a similar disadvantage.

Meanwhile in Europe, the European Commission, working with international ICT stakeholders, has created the European Code of Best Practices for Women and ICT, stating that women are underrepresented in the industry as a whole and in particular in decision-making roles.

The Code represents recent positive developments and aims to ensure that more women choose ICT and are encouraged and supported in the industry.

Recommended changes in education 

  • Schools and universities should organise career events which feature successful female role models
  • Educate teachers as to possible job opportunities
  • Encourage mentoring programmes between young female engineers and students

Recommended changes to recruitment practices

  • Use gender neutral – or female friendly – vocabulary when advertising vacancies
  • Use recruitment procedures that promote diversity
  • Analyse the company’s gender statistics and compare them with local and sector market
  •  Set targets designed to improve gender balance
  • Apply flexible working practices at all levels – including senior management positions

Career development 

  • Offer competence development programmes
  • Finance care expenses (e.g. childcare) when training outside usual working hours
  • Make career planning a responsibility of the organisation and the individual and apply equal opportunities principles in exercising this responsibility

Monitor career development

  • Collect and analyse relevant statistics
  • Create processes to monitor relevant company policies
  • Introduce mentoring programmes

Work/family balance

  • Promote a positive philosophy of maternity/paternity leave
  • Produce guidelines  to ensure staff on leave (e.g. parental leave) are managed appropriately to ensure inclusion
  • Set up resource and competence monitoring during leaves of absence to identify training and support requirements for returners

News in the digital first era

What used to be called ‘the newspaper business’ is under enormous pressure to change.  Sales of newspapers are down and, according to the US  Bureau of Labor Statistics, job numbers have been falling since 2001.  Its latest report shows there has been a steady decline in employment across many branches of what it calls ‘the information industry’, including film, radio, TV as well as newspaper publishing.

According to the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia Journalism School in the US, ongoing changes in the newspaper industry are unavoidable.  Journalism will never be able replicate the revenues previously generated by mass advertising and new business models for content creation and production must be found.  This is brought into focus by the ongoing debate between Google and the news media in a number of  European countries over payment for access to content.

Digital first

In the UK the Financial Times has recognised the need to change.  Its editor has written about the need to balance decisive leadership with ‘good journalism, deep reporting… and new delivery methods’ and why pursuing a digital first strategy was so important to the future success of the paper.

New business models and new roles will inevitably emerge and the situation is fast-moving and dynamic.  In the UK, Edinburgh Napier University’s Institute for Informatics and Digital Innovation is advertising for a Research Fellow in ‘e-punditry’ to explore this changing landscape of new roles, new skills and new formats.  The Tow Center researchers describe the need for ‘a … profession of highly skilled individuals who can work in a data-rich world of crowds and algorithms to find and tell the world important things they would not otherwise know.’

Information professionals and news content

FreePint recently surveyed corporate information managers on their news needs and preferences and identified the factors which they have to balance in their news acquisition decisions.   Beyond the tensions between fee and free content, they report their raised expectations for premium content.  They are looking for specialised features and content sets and additional functionality such as post-search processing and analytics.

The suggestion that [some] people will pay for guaranteed quality may well be reflected in the ‘surprising success’ of the New York Times paywall launched in 2011.  However, an increase in subscriptions is just part of a complicated story which includes a decline in advertising revenue and a reluctance by subscribers to renew after taking advantage of cheap ‘introductory offers’.

Teen technology trends

Some interesting blog posts and research have emerged recently shedding light on how teenagers are using social media tools.

In a blog post Josh Miller wrote about his 15 year old sister’s attitude to social tools and how her use of them differed from his own and that of his peers.  He noted that she described Tumblr simply as a photo service, rather than a blogging tool.  She and her friends were purely consumers of information on the tool, rather than publishers or creators. She also confirmed the view that has been discussed here previously – namely that (generally speaking) Twitter simply does not appeal to this age group.

Inspired by Miller’s post, others joined in the debate.  Gary Tan sought to find more hard data.  He surveyed just over 1000 young people in two age groups (13-18 and 19-25) to find out more about which services young people were using regularly. Tumblr came top of the tools for both age groups (61% of 13-18 year olds; 57% in the older group).  Facebook came second, followed by Twitter.  Instagram and Snapchat also had significant usage figures, in particular with the younger age group.

Another blogger also noted the popularity of Snapchat and Instagram with their teenaged children and friends and reports how they are using Google+ hangouts to – well – hangout.

Finally, Justin Hoenke, a teen librarian working in Portland, ME responded, reporting on how 12-19 year olds are using the library space and technology within it.  Interestingly he reported an ongoing interest in Facebook amongst his teens.  When it comes to providing Facebook support he is often helping teens regain access to their accounts, mostly because they have forgotten their email account passwords (due to infrequent use).  He also differed from other bloggers, noting that he has seen none of his teens using either Instagram or Snapchat.

His other observations include:

Music and entertainment

  • YouTube is an entertainment platform for teens, providing access to free music, TV shows and more.
  • They use YouTube as their main source of entertainment and music (unless they have iTunes vouchers, in which case they often need help to redeem them).  They are not using music streaming services such as Spotify or Pandora.


  • Hoenke agrees that when teens do use Tumblr they do not use it as a blogging tool.  He has set up a teen-themed Tumblr for his library.


  • If they do use Twitter, they are doing it differently to follow celebrities or for ‘rambling’


Children, reading and e-books

The popularity of e-books

The digital landscape for children and young adults is changing rapidly. Research from Digital Book World and PlayScience is aiming to monitor these fast moving trends in 2013.  In the latest report, The ABC of Kids & E-books: understanding the e-reading habits of children aged 2-13, the researchers have discovered:

  • 54% of children are reading e-books (double the number of adults)
  • 85% of them are reading digital books at least
  • Tablets are the preferred device for e-reading

An increase in e-reading is also explored in another recent study, this time by Scholastic.  Focusing on a different age group (9-17 year olds) Scholastic’s key findings include:

  • 51% in their age range report they have NOT read an e-book – and have no interest in doing so
  • 58% said they always wanted to read paper books, even if e-books are available
  • Interestingly, children prefer e-books if they don’t want friends to know what they are reading.  Hard copy books are preferred for bedtime reading

The popularity of reading schemes and the importance of libraries

In the UK, according to The Reading Agency (TRA) a record number of young people are involved in local library-led reading schemes.  750,000 children have participated in TRA’s Summer REading Challenge, supported by over 4,000 volunteers.

However, a report from Bowker Market Report notes that libraries in the US have lost the top spot when it comes to young people finding reading recommendations, with family and friends becoming the most important source.  The library retains the top spot for the place where children obtain their reading for pleasure books.

The future of children’s publishing

According to an expert panel speaking at Children’s Publishing Goes Digital, platforms are growing in importance and popularity with children, parents and teachers.

Entrepreneurship in Europe and beyond

The European Commission (EC) believes that entrepreneurship is a key enabler in improving Europe’s performance in economic reform, social cohesion and employment.  The promotion of entrepreneurship and self-employment in included in the EC’s 2020 strategy.

The Commission is focusing on encouraging unemployed people to start their own businesses and supporting social entrepreneurs.  It has been studying the development of entrepreneurship in Europe for over ten years and the results of the latest survey reveal the current situation in the EU and beyond – including 13 non-EU countries including Brazil, India and Russia.

Key findings

Attitudes to self-employment

  • 58% of EU residents would prefer to be an employee
  • 37% favour self-employment (down from 45% in 2009)
  • Self-employment is generally more popular with non-EU respondents.  In particular, there are high levels of people in favour of self-employment in Brazil (63%) and Turkey (82%)
  • Reasons for stating self-employment is not feasible include
    • The current economic climate
    • Lack of capital
    • Lack of skills
    • Risk of failure
    • Family commitments
    • 23% of EU respondents have started a business or are thinking about doing so

Why be self-employed?

  • Self-fulfillment, personal independence and freedom to choose the time and place of work are all popular reasons for EU respondents to consider self-employment.

Factors in choosing self-employment

  • Having an appropriate business idea (87%)
  • Having access to financial resources
  • Contact with an appropriate business partner (68%) and having a role model (62%)
  • Dissatisfaction with previous work situation (55%)
  • Fewer respondents are concerned about bankruptcy (43% down 6% since 2009) and irregular income (33% down from 39% in 2009)

Attitudes to entrepreneurs

  • 87% of EU respondents believe entrepreneurs are job creators
  • 79% believe they create beneficial products and services
  • 57% believe they take advantage of other people’s work
  • 52% would rather work for a family business, with 48% citing a stronger commitment to the community

The full report is available here.

‘Hashtag omnishambles’ – 2012 words of the year

Newly minted or newly popular words and phrases showcase the key social, economic, technological and cultural trends that have impacted the general consciousness.  Twelve months ago the words of the year included ‘Arab spring’, ‘Occupy’ and ‘The 99 per cent’.  A number of analysts and commentators have now chosen their words of 2012.

In the UK ‘omnishambles’ was coined by the writers of the political satire TV show ‘The Thick of It’.  Used by the foul-mouthed protagonist, it summed up a shambolic political situation and – in an example of life imitating art – was taken up in 2012 by ‘real’ politicians in the UK.  It was also briefly amended in the UK to ‘Romneyshambles’ after US-Presidential candidate Mitt Romney expressed doubt as to London’s capability to host the Olympic Games.

Omnishambles was chosen as word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries, which chose the verb ‘gif’ as the US word of the year.

Continue Reading →

How millennials connect with brands

The generation born between the years 1980 and 1995 (often known as Generation Y or Millennials) has been the subject of an ongoing global benchmarking survey by Edelsman Insights.  The survey, called 8095, explores the shifting priorities and requirements of Gen Y and seeks to understand their attitudes to, and relationships with, brands.

Millennials are the largest generation alive today and will form 75% of the working population by the year 2025.   They are a diverse and educated generation, carrying student debt burdens and not automatically destined to be more prosperous than their parents. They are also suffering at the hands of the global economic downturn, experiencing poor job prospects.  They do however have aspirations – 48% of them hope to own their own businesses.  They are also engaging with brands and products in new and immersive ways.

In the latest report, the researchers have surveyed 4000 millennials in 11 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Turkey, UAE, UK, US) and have some interesting insights.

  • Millennials are delaying purchases and demanding new levels of value from the products they purchase
  • Brand preference is the number one ‘personal identifier’ they are willing to share online
  • They see brands as a partnership and a form of self expression
  • When making purchasing decisions:
    • 94% seek guidance from at least one external source
    • 51%  consult four or more sources
    • After an internet search, millennials are most likely to refer to friends and family for advice and recommendations
  • 74% of them say they influence the purchasing decisions of other generations – including their parents
  • 70% of them feel it is their responsibility to share feedback – positive and negative – with companies
  • 80% want brands to entertain them
    • They are also open to brands becoming involved in other aspects of their lives and helping them with life goals e.g. offering ‘life experiences’ (trips/lessons) or mentorship
  • 40% want to participate in co-creation with brands
  • 33% want real time social media interaction

Above all, millennials want authenticity from the brands with which they engage.

The report says that brands need to become more agile and collaborative.  They can capture the imagination of millennials through humour, a highly visible social media presence, by having a reputation as a great employer and having ‘a good purpose’.  Most importantly, millennials feel a sense of co-ownership towards brands and products and companies will do well to remember that the brand no longer ‘belongs to them’ but to its customers, potential customers, employees and other stakeholders.



Antivirus software – an ‘illusion of security’?

The detection rate of new viruses by antivirus software is currently lower than 5%.

In a Hacker Intelligence Initiative study of 40 antivirus (AV) products (conducted by business security firm Imperva) the results suggest that it can take up to a month for 75% of the products to add viruses to their lists and begin protecting their customers against them.  On average it took three weeks between information about threats being made available and AVs addressing them.

The challenge is that new viruses and malicious programs are being created and distributed on an industrial scale every day and that AV software needs to be updated continuously.  Hackers and attackers understand AV products in depth and are able to design around their strengths and weaknesses.

The researchers ‘hunted down’ 82 viruses using a mixture of search, hacker forums and ‘honey pots’ and then tested them against 40 AV products.  They conclude that AVs are fast to respond to malware that spreads rapidly but that blind spots exist when it comes to viruses with limited distribution.

The anti-virus products tested include paid-for and freeware (e.g. Avast), with little significant difference in performance between the two groups.

Imperva concludes that IT security should continue to use AVs but that they should also focus on what they call ‘aberrant’ behaviour.  They give an example of a breach of information security in a US state.  Once the initial breach had been successful, systems failed to notice that data was being accessed and moved around several times before eventually being moved out of the network by the hackers.

According to Gartner (2011) the global annual spend on antivirus software is $7.4 billion.

You can read the research findings (including some thoughts on the methodology) here.

Original source: ITProPortal