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TiECon 2010 Wireless Sessions: Mobile Apps and Advertising


In this second TiECon 2010 article, we review the two other Wireless panel sessions that covered a variety of topics very germane to the mobile consumer market. The main themes were: mobile apps, mobile advertising, metrics to measure usage, Location Based Services (LBS), and the real time web. We report on thesse and related issues, but not the self promotion pitches made by a few of the speakers. These two TiECon 2010 wireless sessions were:

  • Wireless: Audience Engagement and Metrics in Mobile – Leveraging Mobile Apps, Metrics and Targeting to Drive Value
  • Mobile Consumer and Enterprise Applications – Leveraging the Power of LBS and Real Time Web

We then provide our own perspective on the key issues discussed.

1. Wireless: Audience Engagement and Metrics in Mobile – Leveraging Mobile Apps, Metrics and Targeting to Drive Value

Session Description (from TiE):

Mobile apps provide many usage data points that are generally not available on other online or mobile web channels. Most online players are launching mobile app versions of their online properties, measurements and analytics from apps need to be integrated across both online and all mobile channels to derive an integrated view of the publisher’s audience. Furthermore, the "short-term information seeking" consumption mode of mobile apps implies that any information/metrics that are available must be leveraged in combination with location and other contextual information to target/personalize offers and content to drive engagement and monetization. This panel will highlight usage data points are available and focus on how they can be used to enable richer advertising, content experiences and commerce. Attendees can expect a robust discussion around – What is the state of play in terms of getting the analytics/insights from mobile apps, who are the players and what are the opportunities? What is the state of metrics for mobile advertising in the app space? How relevant are desktop metrics in the mobile apps context? What makes mobile apps unique and how should metrics be defined to capture this unique value? What new metrics must be defined to quantify ROI for advertisers in the mobile app context? What’s working vs not in the mobile app analytics world today? How will mobile app analytics be integrated with online analytics to drive improved ROI for mobile advertising? What is the state of the art in mobile behavioral targeting and personalization? How is mobile analytics being leveraged to improve engagement and user experience in mobile apps?

Moderator: Michael Bayle, VP, Amobee


  • Kanishka Agarwal, SVP Global Mobile Media & Marketing, The Nielsen Company
  • Nancy Benovich Gilby, VP of Engineering, Asurion Mobile Applications
  • Ilja Laurs, Founder & CEO, GetJar
  • Eric Littman, Chairman & CEO, Medialets

Session Summary:

Editors Note: Unlike the first Power Connect Wireless panel that was subject of our earlier TiECON 2010 article, there were no questions debated by the panel members (we much prefer that format). So we are reporting the essence of each of those short presentations here.

In his opening remarks, Session Moderator Michael Bayle described the "mobile opportunity" as apps for smart phones and mobile advertising. He said that "smart phone sales will overtake feature phone sales in 2011 and mobile ad spending willk reach $1.5B in 2013." Continuing, Michael said, "Prior to the iPhone, content creators had to build time consuming and expensive (software development) platforms that had to be approved by the mobile operators. The iPhone and app stores changed that model and created a "nicer" walled garden." In other words, there is more openess now than before, but operators still control what devices are sold on their networks and have a say as to which applications might be blocked or not allowed. The discussions that followed were based on brief presentations from the panelists.

Mobile advertising is very different from typical on-line (fixed access) advertising, according to Eric Littman. Standard display ads on a PC generally won't work on the much smaller mobile device screen. Instead, advertisers need to craft rich media ads that are specifically designed for mobile handsets. His start-up company (Medialets) provides "core ad technology" and analytics to publishers, like CNN, NY Times, and Fandango. "Mobile ads are cool," quipped Mr. Littman (as if he were talking to an audience of teenagers and twenty somthings). He then offered several key observations:

  • Operator deals are expensive and take a very long time to complete. Don't underestimate the depth of the relationship you need to build with the carrier.
  • Consumer titles are "hit driven." Only a few mobile apps become widely used.
  • Opportunities are in service plays and product line extensions for mobile operators. Examples are authentication, integrated payments and billing that are "leveraged as a service."
  • Re-invention plays vs novel business models should be considered by the developer who needs to move very quickly to succeed.

Kanishka Agarwal said that his company – Nielsen- was the world's largest ressearch company tracking consumers (everyone knows about the "Nielsen ratings" for TV shows). They are tracking what mobile consumers are actually doing. Mr. Agarwal noted that Android apps and app stores are doing just as well as Apple's equivalents. In the U.S. today, 21% of devices are smart phones. But that will grow to 50% by 2011 (I wasn't aware that Nielsen made market forecasts). Here are the percentage of mobile subscribers that use various applications:

  • Games 65%
  • News/Weather 56%
  • Maps/Navigation/Search 55%
  • Social Networking 54%
  • Music/Pandora 46%

"To be cool, you need to start using Pandora and Facebook on your mobile phone," according to Kanishka. He close his presentation by advising the attendees to "Start playing with non-productivity apps on an iPhone or Droid. It's actually a lot of fun," he said. (For sure, this author will never become "cool").

Ilja Laurs said that GetJar was the second largest app store/ distributor with 5B mobile app downloads projected by the end of 2010 (GetJar which has partnered with Facebook, says its own app has been downloaded from the Facebook web site, 50 million times in just six months). In many countries, the mobile phone is the only way users access the Internet (as they don't own a PC). This represents a huge opportunity for app developers. Four mobile application business models were quickly identified by Mr. Laurs: paid up, free with advertising, virtual goods, cross selling/upselling. However, none of these were explained or compared.

Nancy Benovich Gilby discussed the problems of monetizing apps and chosing a software platform that will enable the developer to do so. She stated that, "It is very difficult to find the right combination of mobile data services that work" (presumably, for the both the developer and consumer). Her company -Asurion Mobile Applications – provides mobile data backup and insurance protection against lost or stolen phones. They partner with U.S. Cellular. The company's web site states a very clear vision: "To provide automatic mobile protection, seamless content access and enhanced social/ business interactivity through the device."

Nancy identified THE key challenge for mobile app and service developers, "How to determine the business model for a given service so the developer and provider can monetize it?" She said that "added value reduces churn." One option is to sell a service as a "white label" through the mobile operator. She then asked a very germane question, "How does a developer chose which mobile OS/ software platform to create apps?" Nancy suggested tthe developer should first look at "hard data that shows where the real opportunities are." (But she didn't say where to find such data or what to look for). "First you need to determine your goal," she said. Here are a few example goals mentioned: scale, monetization, "cool" factor. She advised developers to start by looking at mobile access to Yahoo, Google, and Facebook. Measure the audiences breadth and user experiences which will depend on the country. For example, in the U.S. 20% of mobiles are smart phones, but in India there are no smart phones and mostly all mobile data is via SMS.

Rather than a wrap up or summary, the moderator than moved directly to the Q and A session, at which time this author left.

Assessment: We were hoping to hear about mobile enterprise applications, M2M wireless communications market and the "Internet of Things," but those topics were not addressed in this session. There was also nothing on new business models between content providers and wireless providers (e.g. Amazon eReader downloads don't incur a separate wireless bill from the 3G network operator). Needless to say, we were disappointed.

2. Mobile Consumer and Enterprise Applications – Leveraging the Power of LBS and Real Time Web

Session Description (from TiE):

The discussion will be centered around certain key features and capabilities available on most new mobile devices – LBS & Real Time Web, and how it is revolutionizing a new class of applications being adopted by both Consumers and Enterprise alike. This panel will discuss technologies, capabilities, trends and what innovative developers can do to accelerate adoption of their applications.

– Real-time Collaboration as a key driver. A recent study highlighted the relatively low percentage of location applications across an array of popular mobile operating systems, particularly the share of premium vs. free apps. At the same time, the total number of location applications is somewhat staggering in that some 6,000+ location based or location aware apps are available today. The next obvious question is why aren’t more people using location apps outside of basic maps, directions and the occasional store locater? Is the technology ripe enough or are there still improvements to be made in accuracy, reliability or privacy? Are there significant growth and revenue opportunities for location in games, social, and advertising segments?

The Enterprise market is another potentially valuable segment for location. Applications like Field Service, Direct Store Delivery, Public Safety or Security and Asset Management are obvious examples that benefit from location. Will this trend extend to broader enterprise application areas like SFA, Customer Service, Collaboration, etc. all becoming more location-aware.

Given that Operators released and promoted some of the first and to date, most successful location apps, how important of a role will they play in the LBS ecosystem as a greater number of applications proliferate their networks? This panel will discuss and debate the relevance of location and the benefit for Enterprise apps in wireless and where they see the next big opportunity.

Moderator: Jai Jaisimha, CEO and Founder, Open Mobile


  • Atul Suklikar, VP of Product Management,
  • Bob Borchers, General Partner, Opus Capital
  • Leslie Percutti, Director of Product Management, Qualcomm CDMA Technologies
  • Willie Jow, VP of Mobility Product Marketing, Sybase
  • Ray Taylor, President, Buongiorno USA

Session Summary:

We only caught a glimpse of this session which was properly organized as a panel with the moderator posing questions to the panelists who then responded. Here are a few key points made about LBS and enterprise apps (for various vertical market segments):

  • Location and proximity offer good potential for CRM based enterprise applications, e.g. to enable a company to "see" nearby customers, say within a 25 mile radius
  • Location infrastructure (which determines preciseness of the user location) may not be good enough to build high quality apps. It may also not be reliable enough.
  • Carriers don't know how to monetize LBS.
  • There will be new, emerging mobile apps for the "light weight information worker." These may include social networking to enable such workers to collaborate.
  • Companies need to do more to motivate developers to create apps for enterprise users.
  • Developer needs to build and deliver apps that provide a great user experience. The goal is to build "high touch" apps
  • Challenge is that the mobile enterprise market is too fragmented to build apps on the different platforms and devices currently in use.

Assessment: While a lot of the very important issues were brought out in the open by the panelists, there were no tangible take-aways for me. The answers provided were very general and lacked sufficient detail. I think it will be very difficult to encourage independent app developers to build LBS applications for specific industries, unless they get contracts and up front payments to do so. They are not going to be selling those through app stores, but to each individual company in a given industry. We were also disappointed in this session, especially when compared to the first Power Connect Wireless Session and TiECon 2009 Wireless sessions.

For comparison, please see this article which had 11 user comments: Mobility in the Spotlight at TiEcon 2009 Wireless Sessions

Author Alan Weissberger

By Alan Weissberger

Alan Weissberger is a renowned researcher in the telecommunications field. Having consulted for telcos, equipment manufacturers, semiconductor companies, large end users, venture capitalists and market research firms, we are fortunate to have his critical eye examining new technologies.

7 replies on “TiECon 2010 Wireless Sessions: Mobile Apps and Advertising”

Good follow-up to the first part regarding the TiE-Con 2010.  It's interesting how many times "cool" was referenced.  The problem is that today's "cool" often becomes tomorrow's "so-what."  

Ken,  Thanks for your kind words. 
In fact, "cool" was mentioned many more times in both these sessions, but not once in the PC session that was the subject of my first TiECon article.  The reader is invited to compare the content of that first session with the two that are the subject of this article.
Another interesting point not discussed was the domination that Google and Apple seem to have in the mobile advertising market.  Google has now officially acquired Ad Mob, while Apple earlier bought Quattro.  This seems to enhance their mobile presence, which already looms large with their app developer platforms (Android and iPhone/iPad, respectively.
Google wins clearance to buy mobile-advertising firm

Commonwealth Club May 27 SF meeting abstract:
The mobile app market is expected to hit $30 billion by 2015, creating one of the fastest growing areas in technology today. Smartphone adoption has spurred a burgeoning mobile app economy for developers, publishers and advertisers. With mobile expected to surpass desktops as the way consumers access the Web, there is a tremendous opportunity for innovation. Though Apple dominates today's app marketplace, how will Android and Windows Phone 7 provide user value and steal valuable mindshare? How have apps changed the way consumers play games, interact with music and connect with each other? What areas are investment hotspots in the app space? —————————————————————————-
These issues were not discussed at the TieCON 2010 Wireless panels that are the subject of this article

Thanks very much for such a comprehensive article on this session + the other Wireless TiECon session, which had even more information.  Kudos for a job well done!

Excellent article, but the content was not as valuable as your 1st article (which I already commented on)

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