Mobile is changing the way we do things, and smartphones are changing the way we do mobile. Smartphone ownership has tripled since 2009 – close to a third of Americans 12+ own a smartphone.
What’s really interesting to note is what smartphoners are doing with their devices. According to the new Arbitron/Edison Infinite Dial Study, 40% browse the Internet several times a day or more. 14% play games. 8% watch video. 8% listen to Pandora. While the most popular activity remains talking on the phone, texting is gaining fast, and other activites are growing.
Folks are looking for ways to use their smartphones and platforms that are well suited are the big winners. 27% of smartphoners use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, a number that jumped 34% in a year. Sites and activities that are well positioned in the mobile game are winning audience big time: Facebook, YouTube, Pandora, Twitter.
The media landscape is changing. Mobile, and in particular smartphone usage is revolutionizing media delivery, use and expectations. And the pace of change is phenomenal. Are you thinking about ways to make mobile happen for your platform?
70 million Americans have listened to or watched a downloaded podcast, according to a recently updated report by Edison Research: The Current State of Podcasting. That’s 23% of the population, a number that’s increased just one percent from a year ago.
Awareness of podcasting is sitting steady at 45%, up just slightly from last year’s 43%. That’s not the kind of growth that inspires hope that the medium will spread like wildfire. Podcast listening and/or viewing just hasn’t gone mobile – 71% of people who listen to podcasts do so on their desktop and that number has actually increased from last year, according to the study.
So while cell phone usage has soared, podcasting usage has gotten stuck on the desktop, which is one possible explanation for the stagnant growth of the audience. Smartphone streaming has made downloading audio files for listening on mobile phones unnecessary.
It looks like streaming is taking a bite out of podcasting at this point. Online radio’s audience is 70 million monthly (Arbitron/Edison’s Infinite Dial Study).
Podcast consumers tend to be early adopters and social networkers, according to the study. They tend to respond to sponsor ads – 71% said they had visited a website because of an ad they had seen or heard in a podcast.
With wifi and 3G, and soon 4G access more readily available to consumers who want to stream and listen on demand, it’s looking more and more like podcasting is an interim audio technology that has limited long term audience growth because it’s replaceable by audio streaming.
Mobile music service Thumbplay has signed up over half a million trial accounts since it launched in March. Thumbplay offers unlimited music streaming for a monthly subscription fee of $9.99.
The downloads are for an initial free trial period, and although Thumbplay won’t say what their conversion is, Techcrunch points out that even at just 10% conversion that is $500,000 a month in revenues.
That sounds like a business model to me.
Some more interesting info on the service. Ninety percent of the use is on smartphones, although Thumbplay does offer a desktop app as well. Most of the subscribers are male, 25-34 years old. 39% of smartphone listening is on iPhone, 36% on Blackberry, and 25% on Android. Thumbplay’s one of the top 100 free apps in the iPhone app store.
And their promotional video/take off on an infomercial is amusing too.
Smartphones and other Internet radio devices have increased Internet radio’s mobility and moved Internet radio into much closer competition with broadcast radio, according to a briefing of the Station Resource Group. Wireless Internet radio will not completely replace broadcast radio, however it will continue to expand.
Handheld devices are becoming a popular mobile Internet radio listening device, and although easy listening is complicated by the need for specialized applications per station or service and device operating system, that will likely change with updates to browsers and technology. New interest and developments are heating up for connected automotive devices, which will grow listening to Internet radio as well. However the study notes that these in-car listening stations will also offer AM/FM receivers and won’t replace broadcast technology in cars.
An important aspect of radio’s new delivery systems is the screen that many devices have that can deliver graphical displays and even video. So as not to be considered deficient on these devices, broadcasters must develop alliances and strategies for offering visual content compatible with their audio content.
It’s an interesting briefing that acknowledges the increasing impact the Internet radio is having on broadcast radio stations. There’s wisdom in the recommendations that radio begin to identify itself as a visual medium and develop visual content solutions that can entice listeners. This video by Slate Magazine gives an overview of some Internet radio stations’ visual approaches and also made me think a little more about videos as well…
Paul and Fred Jacobs are research and marketing gurus and owners of Jacobs Media. Recently, in addition to making names for themselves as consultants to public radio and rock radio stations, they’ve become experts in iPhones and custom apps for smartphones.
The two businesses are all about marketing. It’s still about about the audience, according to Paul Jacobs. Apps are more than a way to connect to a station’s stream, they create an engagement point with listeners. Apps are really a strategic marketing tool that enables a station to open up its brand to a mobile audience.
JacAPPS created the recently launched app for WEEI in Boston, and according to Jacobs, it’s the most robust and complex app that they have built, featuring content, scores and headlines, blogs, podcasts, and of course, a streaming player.
The jacAPPS radio app features artist and title information, one click stream access and an alarm clock function along with background/foreground play, station controls, and a rotating background panel that stations can easily control to create sponsorship opportunities. They’ve built about 140 apps for radio stations so far — for companies like Greater Media, Lincoln Financial, Entercom, Cox, NPR and EMF. They’re also working with some international companies.
In these days of little revenue growth, the app business has taken off for the Jacobs guys. Mobile strategy, more listeners, new revenue stream — and an average jacAPP costs $2k to $5k. Which makes me wonder what anyone is waiting for…