Archive for the ‘feature phones’ tag
Luis J. Salazar is the CEO and co-founder of Jobaline.
Any business owner knows how difficult it is to recruit the right help. Finding the right workers is one of the many challenges companies have long-faced, especially when it comes to filling hourly jobs. Companies from Starbucks to the local gas station rely on hourly employees, which represent over 59 percent of the US labor force and more than 74 million workers, reinforcing the notion that hourly workers truly are the backbone of business in America.
While potential solutions to this recruiting problem should exist within our mobile devices, statistics show that businesses are still struggling to catch up with demand, as only 13 percent of corporate websites have truly mobile versions.
The even greater challenge businesses face is that of a pervasive “digital divide” that separates employers from hourly workers. Most of the population of the latter relies on simple cellular phones and flip phones, and does not have access to smartphones or even personal computers to access web-based recruiting tools such as LinkedIn.
So how are employers supposed to reach the talent pool they need the most?
The hourly worker’s dilemma
Most of the inefficiencies that affect small business owners and corporate America, with respect to hiring hourly workers, are a result of the digital divide. Long associated with the gap between those who have Internet access and those who don’t, today the digital divide has expanded to include the lack of availability of mobile-friendly Internet solutions.
We live in a society of mobile phones. Eighty-eight percent of adults in America have a cell phone, while only 57 percent own laptops, according to the Pew Research Center. A recent study by Potentialpark in 2012 found that 26 percent of job seekers use their mobile devices for career-related purposes, and another 59 percent could imagine doing so.
But in the hourly jobs economy, the technological divide between job seekers and the recruiting needs of business owners is quite pronounced. According to Nielsen research in 2012, people making less than $35,000 per year tend to forego purchasing the $250 smartphone and $100/month data plans preferred by mid- and high-wage workers. Because hourly workers use a large portion of their earnings to cover basic needs, they tend to gravitate towards mid- to low-priced feature phones and cheaper plans that allow text messaging, phone calls and some basic apps.
In addition, 57 percent of hourly workers prefer phone calls to other forms of communication, and text messaging is another popular option — both for smart and not-so-smart phones. The Pew Research Center in 2011 noted that text messaging and phone calls are the preferred means of communication among all demographic groups. Americans send and receive an average of 40 text messages per day, and this number is two to three times higher among the hourly workers demographic.
A simple step to maximize mobility
A huge segment of the workforce isn’t leaving their “basic phones” any time soon. Companies that want to recruit these people will need to reach out not only through web sites, but through mobile means, such as text messaging.
Right now, there are a few steps in the right direction. The recent launch of LinkedIn Mobile signals a response to market demand for mobile solutions, but it does not address the issue of the digital divide. Facebook Zero is also promising — as it aims to give people with feature phones access to the social network — it does not present a holistic solution for matching employers and hourly workers. Classified ads on Craigslist are fairly mobile-friendly, but they’re just simple information-sharing units, without much engagement.
My company, Jobaline, aims to enable engagement with hourly workers — via text message on smartphones and simple feature phones — and to start where Craigslist ends. By supporting employers in connecting with and pre-screening hourly workers via text messaging, we hope to aid in removing the implicit discrimination of Web-based or smartphone-only tools, which only reach people with a certain level of access to technology.
The relatively small step of widening mobile access will help enable workers to secure jobs they wouldn’t otherwise know exist. The same kind of text- and voice-enabled technology that Jobaline has designed can also be applied to other vital elements of work, such as learning about the availability of and applying for healthcare insurance (but that’s another hot-button issue for another post!).
Companies and hourly workers must be on the same page — technologically speaking — using solutions that enable engagement, much the same way that businesses are currently doing with professionals, for whom most mobile technology is currently geared.
Mobile access for job growth
Rather than focusing solely on improving online access, it is time to build interactive mobile recruiting technologies that reach people on all kinds of devices, even feature phones.
By developing technologies and policies that enable wider — even simpler — mobile access to recruiting capabilities that both employers and hourly workers need to survive, we can help bridge this gap, fill this digital divide, and truly put America back to work.
Luis J. Salazar is the founder and CEO of Jobaline, a simple, social and mobile jobs platform that matches employers with hourly workers. A longtime tech executive in digital media, mobile technologies, and software as a service, Salazar has held leadership positions at Yahoo!, Microsoft, WPP research (GMI), Xerox, and others. Originally from Venezuela, he is working to make a true social impact through developing innovative technology on the United States.
Top image credit: Thomas Kohler/Flickr
Filed under: Mobile
Yesterday, Bryson Meunier spotted a new test in Google’s mobile search results where they label smartphone-optimized pages with a little smartphone icon in the search results. Here posted some low quality images but Yoshihiko Yoshida has some better quality images which I am sharing here:
Google confirmed this test telling me:
Weâre experimenting with ways to optimize the mobile search experience, including helping users identify smartphone-optimized sites. We donât have any more details to share at the moment, but thank you for checking in.
Since Google offered up their official recommendation on mobile SEO, this is a good indicator (if you see the test) to see if your site is indeed implemented properly for Google to recognize that your site is smartphone optimized or not. There is no such feature in Google Webmaster Tools as far as I know. There are mobile sitemaps, but that is used for feature phones.
I am also pretty sure Google had a similar implementation, of labeling phone friendly pages in the search results, specifically for feature phones. Moving it to smartphones is neat, although I am not sure if Google will add this clutter to the page or not in the future?
Opera, Mum On Facebook Rumors, Says Mobile Users Double To 200M, And That Facebook Dominates In Africa
The buzz about a possible acquisition by Facebook has almost completely died down, but Opera today released an update on the state of its business that nevertheless highlights how its own strategic direction is closely following that of its rumored suitor.
The combined number of active users of Opera’s mobile internet browsers has now topped 200 million, nearly double the figure a year ago, with pageviews more than doubling to 115 billion. And just as Facebook highlighted in its earnings call last week that emerging markets and mobile use were a key part of its advertising story, Opera in its State of the Mobile Web report has also zeroed in on how well it’s been performing in one emerging market in particular: Africa, where Opera’s figures reveal that Facebook is, by far, the most popular site in the region.
Last week, during Facebook’s Q2 earnings call, COO Sheryl Sandberg made a specific reference to mobile usage in emerging markets and how it relates to Facebook’s developments on the advertising front, specifically around mobile advertising. “We recently enabled our advertisers to buy us exclusively in mobile News Feed. We’re seeing strong interest, particularly from our clients, who know mobile is critical to reaching new customers, especially in emerging markets,” she said.
Coincidentally, Oslo, Norway-based Opera, too, is focusing in on mobile growth in emerging markets — perhaps, like Facebook, a response to addressing those places that still have a lot of room to grow in comparison to more developed countries where adoption is slowing down.
With much of the mobile use in Africa still being based on feature phones, Opera’s Mini browser (which works on both feature phones and smartphones) is taking the lead, with 36 countries on the continent more than doubling their use of feature phone-friendly browser. Opera has published a pretty cool interactive map of the continent that gives you a look at Opera stats combined with those of the country in general.
Another politically troubled country, Côte d’Ivoire, also showed strong growth. Opera Mini users there were up by 600%, with pageviews up 744% and data use up 760%. This is in a country with a population of 16 million, where mobile penetration is at 15 million, and landline penetration at a tiny 230,000. That underscores just how important mobile is there.
In general, higher growth rates for pageviews and data use, compared to users of Opera mini, are a mark of better engagement. Opera notes that this is the bigger trend across all of the continent. “Across Africa, data growth seems to outpace page-view growth. This fact suggests that Africans are browsing larger pages and most likely, using richer, more advanced websites,” the company writes. It so happens that data use and pageview increases also provide a boost to Opera’s mobile ads business.
And guess what the top domain is in almost all of the continent?
It’s Facebook. In fact, the only three countries where Opera doesn’t list Facebook.com as the top domain are Algeria, Angola and Guinea, where Google has the edge.
Interestingly, Africa is also a mark of where Nokia can still claim to be totally dominating the market, with its feature phone handsets making up almost all of the most popular models in every country.
On to more general stats about Opera, the story is still good but not growing as spectacularly as it is in that specific emerging region.
Opera says that most of the 200 million users overall of Opera’s mobile browsers (it also has a small business in desktop) is almost entirely around Opera Mini, the browser that works both on feature phones and various smartphone platforms. The smartphone-only Opera Mobile, it says, currently has only around 17 million users, although as you can see in the table below their percentage of the overall number has been steadily growing:
Opera notes that the 200 million figure is a rise of 47% over June 2011, the same rate Opera reported last month but definitely down from growth March 2012 – when Opera noted that users had been growing at a rate of 67% (the company had released a big update of Opera Mini at the end of February, which may have accounted for that spike).
What’s perhaps encouraging for Opera is that, as we saw in Africa, globally engagement among those using its browsers is also up: Opera notes that in June 2012, it clocked 115 billion pageviews, which was a rise of 55% on June 2011 — effectively, the pageview growth rate is outpacing that of user adoption, implying that people are spending more time with Opera than before.
Similarly, data consumption is up to over 2 petabytes, an increase of nearly 90%. Both of these numbers are key to Opera’s mobile advertising business — a part of the company where Opera continues to invest so that it, like other browser companies, can generate revenue from all that traffic on its platform.
Google recently released an addendum to their guidelines for optimizing for smartphones that gives more detail around how to optimize for feature phones as well. I know some of you are thinking, “Feature phones? What is this, 2005? Let me pull out my Razr and look for ringtones on WAP sites….
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
Opera Software is probably best known for its mobile browser software for smart and feature phones, but over the last couple of years it’s also been buying up mobile advertising companies to help it monetize those browsers. Today it’s released its first report looking at trends in its ad network — partly, perhaps, to raise the profile of that business, but also to highlight where some of the biggest action may be today on its platform.
There have been a lot of mobile ad reports published — they seem to have replaced the infographic as the primary visual marketing currency — but this one caught my eye, not just because Opera may get bought by Facebook (although hasn’t that rumor gone quiet).
For starters, contrary to what ad networks like Adfonic, inMobi and Millennial Media have shown, in Opera’s report Apple’s iOS is the dominant operating system, rather than Android (the other three have all noted that Android traffic has overtaken that of iOS on their ad networks).
According to Opera’s numbers, iOS makes up nearly 47 percent of traffic on its network, compared to just over 24 percent for Android. It also took up a healthy majority of ad revenues, at over 61 percent, with CPMs at $2.49. Within that, Opera broke out the performance of different devices: the iPhone accounted for more traffic, but iPad tablets had the highest CPMs of all devices/platforms, at $3.96. Opera did not break out Android by device, but overall it noted that it accounted for almost 27 percent of revenues with eCPMs at $2.10.
Windows Phone was the loser in Opera’s rankings. Its eCPMs were only $0.20, with only 0.8 percent of traffic and 0.1 percent of revenues.
Opera’s conclusion is that features on a phone that enable you to interact with ads (strong processing power, cameras on devices, big screens) all contribute to a stronger placement on the list, but it also noted that this wasn’t the issue with Windows Phone — the lack of users was the problem.
The other reason for why numbers may leaning in favor iOS is because of Opera’s own traffic on its browsers — the iOS app is one of the most popular, and iOS users happen to be some of the most engaged when it comes to mobile use. Opera says the data it uses for this report comes from 9,000 global customers and over than 35 billion ad impressions per month, with that resulting traffic bringing $240 million+ in revenue to mobile publishers in 2011 (not 2012).
Another notable point in the report is the correlation it shows between rich media and engagement with ads. That’s partly demonstrated, Opera notes, in the high CPMs for the iPad, which has a bigger screen and a better experience for video and other highy visual formats.
The success of rich media compared to more static interfaces also comes through in time engaged with an ad. Facebook doesn’t get too much of a mention in the report, except to note that it’s comparing poorly at the moment against mediums like photos and video when it comes to ad engagement. Among those users that click through to a video, 66 percent of them will complete the interaction and then spend about 52 seconds dwelling on the next screen. Photo users spent even more time, interestingly, at 1 minute and 25 seconds, although fewer clicked through. Only 23 percent clicked through to a Facebook action, and spent 37 seconds on the site. (That may also partly explain some of Facebook’s own moves to add more media to its site overall.)
Stats like these are having an impact on what advertisers are buying these days. Opera pointed out that generally speaking the trend seems to be among advertisers to use the more enhanced formats compared to standard and expandable banners. These latter two categories have seen shrinking investment over the last six months. Interestingly HTML rich media ads now account for the most ad executions on Opera’s network, taking the top slot from standard ads.
Like a broken record, Nokia posted weak earnings for the second quarter this morning reporting a $1 billion operating loss on net sales of $9.21 billion. That falls in line with what Nokia warned, and it’s slightly better than the company’s $1.6 billion loss in Q1.
Despite the whopping loss, Nokia managed to double its Lumia shipments over the previous quarter to 4 million units. The Q2 numbers brings Nokia’s total Lumia shipments to around 7 million, which kicked off with 1 million shipments in the last quarter of 2011. While its Lumia shipments aren’t stellar, their steady growth shows that Nokia’s is at least paying off somewhat.
Overall, Nokia shipped 10.2 million smartphones in Q2 (a 14 percent drop from last year), and 73 million feature phones. The company stumbled in North America though, reporting just 600,000 phone shipments compared to 1.5 million last year.
More than ever, Nokia’s future lies in the success of its Microsoft partnership. The company recently dropped the price of its flagship Lumia 900 to $50, but we don’t have much faith in sales picking up. Microsoft recently announced that existing Windows Phones won’t get upgraded to Windows Phone 8, due to massive changes in the core OS. (The Lumia phones will at least get a slightly upgraded version of Windows Phone, version 7.8, which has many of the new OS’s interface changes.)
In a statement this morning, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said:
“While Q2 was a difficult quarter, Nokia employees are demonstrating their determination to strengthen our competitiveness, improve our operating model and carefully manage our financial resources. We are executing with urgency on our restructuring program. We are disposing of non-core assets like Vertu. We are taking the necessary steps to restructure the operations of the company.”
Looking towards Q3, Nokia is expecting similar financials. That’s not stopping investors from seeing a glimmer of hope though — the company’s stock jump up 15 percent this morning after the earnings were announced.
Photo: Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat
With a keen eye for technology that could benefit users in emerging countries, Google today launched Gmail SMS, a service that will let you send and receive messages from your Gmail account via text messaging.
The service, which will initially be available in Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya, lets users tap into the much more ubiquitous (and reliable) voice cellular networks, instead of relying on Internet connectivity. It’ll open up Gmail to people who only have feature phones with basic voice and texting capabilities, and for others it’ll be a useful fail-safe for dealing with shoddy network infrastructure.
The service shows that there’s still plenty of life in SMS in emerging markets, even as consumers move to data-based messaging tools like iMessage and Facebook Messenger in more developed countries. There’s little overhead with SMS, since it’s a core part of most cellular networks, and it remains essential in countries that don’t have significant mobile web coverage.
After signing up for Gmail SMS, your e-mail messages will show up as text messages automatically. You can reply to e-mails directly through texts, and you can also use commands like “MORE,” “PAUSE,” and “RESUME” to control the flow of messages.
Google is offering Gmail SMS for free, though of course you’ll have to watch out for standard texting fees.
South African startup Motribe is proving that you don’t need to cater to smartphone users to build a million-strong community on the mobile web in under three months.
Motribe announced today that two apps that it launched on Africa’s largest social network, Mxit, have each garnered over a million users. The apps, JudgeMe and MxPix, let people and brands share photos and status updates from any mobile device, including low-end handsets.
The success of MxPix, Africa’s version of Instagram, proves that the magic of editing photos with vintage-inspired filters is universal. In the first two weeks, users uploaded over 70,000 photos and dished out 130,000 “likes”.
The explosive uptake for these apps is unsurprising given that Africa is the fastest-growing mobile market in the world. The most popular handset is a low-cost slider phone like a Samsung e250.
Motribe is a high-performing mobile social networking platform that’s designed for users in the most rural parts of Africa and India. The Cape Town–based company launched in 2010 to take advantage of the growing market in Africa — a “mobile-first continent,” according to founder Nic Haralambous.
The founders told us they developed and marketed the technology with less than half a million dollars in seed funding — an impressive feat.
The vision? ”We wanted to empower users in the emerging markets who can’t afford smartphones and can only access the Internet using a mobile phone,” Haralambous said.
Haralambous explained that he was inspired to start a company to give local people the capability to blog, share their photographs, and connect using feature phones. He noticed that communities in his native South Africa like to congregate around specific topics and shared interests, like a soccer team or church group.
Cofounder Vincent Maher said the idea to build a mobile web platform was validated when he set up a small mobile community for his wife, and they made a profit from it within two months.
There is a huge opportunity for brands to reach an under-served market of a billion people. Already, Motribe is seeing competition encroach on the space from the likes of Netbiscuits, Mobify, and GoMobi.
“Motribe’s focus on connecting this demographic and building tools exclusively for them provides users, brands, and businesses across the globe with the ability to reach the mass market across a multitude of mobile devices,” Haralambous said.
Filed under: VentureBeat
Surprising no one, the latest statistics from Nielsen prove that smartphone purchases aren’t slowing down anytime soon.
Among new mobile buyers in the U.S., two-thirds chose a smartphone over a feature phone in the last three months, the research firm found. That’s a fairly significant jump from around this time last year, when Nielsen noted that smartphones finally overtook feature phones among new buyers.
In terms of other smartphone figures, not much has changed. Nielsen found that 54.9 percent of now own smartphones (as of June 2012), and Android still holds a commanding lead of 51.8 percent over the iPhone’s 34.3 percent. That likely won’t change anytime soon, as the release of new Android handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC One series will keep Android sales strong (and we don’t expect to see the next iPhone until this fall).
Nielsen’s data also shows that Windows Phone 7 still has a pitifully small market share of around 1.3 percent. Given Microsoft’s recent announcement that existing Windows Phone devices won’t get upgraded to Windows Phone 8, I have a feeling that many potential buyers will be holding off on getting a new Windows Phone handset.
Among smartphone manufacturer market share, Apple still leads, with 34 percent, followed by Samsung’s 17 percent share and HTC’s 14 percent.
Filed under: VentureBeat
Not dumbing down the information network experience for the hundreds of millions of people still carrying around feature phones, Twitter has today released a native mobile app, consistent with its iPhone and Android offerings, for all Nokia Series 40 devices.
The brand new Nokia app, available now on the Ovi Store, introduces a native, fully-featured Twitter experience to a massive pool of people with Nokia S40 devices. Nokia said in January that it had sold more than 1.5 billion of these feature phones.
The application comes just two days after Twitter released new applications for iPhone and Android meant to bring parity between to its web and mobile products.
The Nokia release is also a part of a concerted effort on Twitter’s part to reach every person on the planet, and especially those with feature phones, a Twitter spokesperson told VentureBeat.
Previously, Twitter updated its mobile web app. The company also just announced a partnership with MediaTek to bring the information network experience to more people in emerging countries.
Photo credit: Honou/Flickr