What Is The Future Of Mobile News?

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The transition to mobile technology has moved faster than most predicted, with more than half of US adults now having web access through a smartphone or tablet. This advance is going to have major implications for how news content is consumed and paid for.  Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Economist have observed that 22% of US adults now regularly use a tablet, and that almost a quarter of those who don’t have a tablet, plan to get one in the next 6 months (23%). The number of adults with a smartphone is up to 44% from 35% in May 2011.

What’s important in this context is that 64% of tablet owners and 62% of smartphone owners say they use the device for news at least once a week. This is pretty much tied with other activities like email and game playing on tablets, and is behind only email on smartphones. What’s also interesting is that they are not necessarily replacing the news they were originally getting, but adding new sources (33%) and also consuming more (40%).

A few other gems of information from the report:

  • Only 52% of tablet owners now report owning an iPad, compared with 81% in 2011. Almost half, 48% own android based devices, 21% of which are Kindles. iPad owners do use their devices more often, and more often for news. Android users are more likely to use social networks.
  • People who get their news on tablets and smartphones are high appeal targets for organizations because they tend to be more engaged than users who get their news on just one device, and they are more likely to read in-depth articles. Dual-device users are also more likely than others to have paid for news content.
  • Tablet news consumers how get news more than one time during the day are twice a likely as those who get news once a day to have paid for news on their tablet (10% vs 4%).
  • 19% of mobile news users have paid for a digital news subscription of some kind in the last year, and a third of tablet news users with digital subscriptions have added new subscriptions since getting their device. Of these mobile news users, 31% have print-only subscriptions, and prefer a traditional reading experience rather than high-tech features.
  • People notice ads on mobile devices and may even be more likely to click on them than they are on other digital ads. Half of mobile news users (49% of tablet, 50% of smartphone users) sometimes or often notice ads when they are getting news on their device. Around 15% click on ads when getting news on one of the mobile devices and 7% actually buy something. While these are low, they actually outpace other digital click-through rates. In comparison, browser based ads have less than a 1% click through.
  • Users are leaning towards the browser and away from apps for news consumption. 60% of tablet news users use the browser more than apps. Only 23% get news fromly through apps, and 16% use both equally. In 2011, 40% got news through the browser and 21% through apps, and 31% used both equally. Those who use apps and the browser, are much more engaged.
  • Contrary to our last blog post, for news it appears the post-PC era has not necessarily arrived yet. But as we did mention in that post, it’s because the PC is used during work hours for news consumption. 41% of mobile users still get news on their laptop or PC, still prefer the conventional computer for doing so. Tablets rank second 25%, followed by print, and then the smartphone.


Source: Pew and http://www.journalism.org/analysis_report/future_mobile_news

guys on couches with iPads

The End of an Era as PC Sales Decline For First Time In 11 years

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Sales of PCs, which includes notebooks, netbooks, and desktops are on the decline for the first time since 2001. This is a landmark moment and a harbinger of the future age of mobile. While sales of tablets and smartphones will increase rapidly, sales of PCs will stay the same or decline. Pew Research says:

Half of all U.S. adults now have a mobile connection to the web through either a smartphone or tablet, significantly more than a year ago

Access to the internet had been one of the major drivers of PC adoption because it was pretty much the only way to get on the net. Nowadays however, people have devices with them at all times that allow those same use cases. This ability to access the internet with the cheaper, easier, and more convenient form factors of mobile devices is causing the demand for PCs to decline. I really don’t see most people wanting to hunker down at a desktop or want to hunch over a laptop unless they are working.

The form factor of a tablet is much more desirable than a PC for someone watching TV or just hanging out on a couch. I find myself preferring my iPad to my laptop unless I am doing lots of writing or other input-heavy activities. An example of this is a situation occurred the other day with my roommate, a friend from out of town, and me. We were hanging out, chatting, and relaxing, in my living room, when I realized we were all on our iPads.

guys on couches with iPads

I find it hard to imagine that the same situation occurring where we would all be sitting on our laptops while hanging out. There is something about the way you handle a tablet, and the passive qualities of the experiences that are had on them that lends to their increased usage. When I think of laptops, I think of chargers and heat, which I do not associate with tablets at all.

A lot of people out there are looking at these numbers and blaming the dip on the economy and on the pending release of Windows 8, and while I think that may have some contribution to the decline in PC sales, this is really about a change in consumer behavior. The only thing the PC really has going for it is business usage.

Our office has 80 high-tech people working out of it, and I don’t see a single one of them using a tablet. Many use laptops (which count as PCs) with external monitors, wireless mouses and wireless keyboards. I personally am not going to trade a tablet in anytime soon for my work setup. I am writing this article right now on the setup pictured below:

27 -inch monitor, 24-inch vertical monitor, Kinesis Contoured Keyboard, and Evoulent Vertical Mouse along with my PC and it’s 16 gigs of ram and 4 tb of storage.

I am much more productive on this computer for inputting information than I am on a tablet or phone. Work situations seem to be one of the few instances where a PC is preferable to a tablet and I would bet that this stays true for a good amount of time. Typing on a real keyboard is, a lot faster than typing on a touch screen, hands down. My prediction is that any input heavy task like writing, design, and development will continue to be done on PCs for the foreseeable future while, passive and low input activities such as reading, social networking, and shopping continue to push the transition to mobile devices over PCs.

PCs are not going extinct, in fact no technology really ever goes extinct, but they will become more and more sparse, especially in the coming years as consumers start to own more than one size of tablet. It’s kind of sad to see the era of the PC transition out, but observing this changing trend is one of the main reasons NatMobi was founded and is what we are capitalizing on now and into the future.




Nuts For Coconuts at NatMobi

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Over here at NatMobi, we’re nuts for coconuts, literally. Our office stocks three different types of coconut water on a good day and sometimes, that’s still not enough. Downstairs from our building is a juice bar, and after much negotiation, we were able to secure a great rate on real coconuts! You can see the excitement of everyone in the office in the video below (sorry it is vertical).

NatMobi Turns 1 Today

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NatMobi turns 1 year old today. NatMobi has had a great first year, bringing many of our ideas to fruition, relocating to New York City, developing new products, and meeting great people. It has been a wild ride and I can honestly say that I enjoy every single day that I work on NatMobi, which right now is nearly every day.

Thank you to all of my family, friends, and customers because without you, we couldn’t be doing this.


Eric Matzner

Mid-Year 2012 Mobile Stats – Vertical Integration and The Battle of The Tech Titans

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If you can look past the drama caused by the original version of this image released by Neilson (which made it appear as if Windows Mobile and RIM had a much higher US market share), you can see that there is a big battle raging between Apple and Android. With a combined 51% of the market you might think that Android is eating Apple’s lunch, but in reality, that’s not really the case. On a second look, Apple is actually the largest individual producer of phones with 34%. More importantly, what the above graph doesn’t show is that Apple makes nearly 75% of the profits in global mobile phone market and similarly in the tablet market. Their profits are visible in the graph below:

Apple has successfully proved their model of controlling all aspects of the device from start to finish. They not only reap the financial benefits of vertical integration in manufacturing, but they are also able to make sure the software works seamlessly with the hardware. It looks like the other players in the game have decided to emulate Apple’s strategy.

With the recent announcements of the Microsoft Surface and the Google Nexus 7 tablet, both companies are showing their new vertical strategies. Google chose not to go all the way vertical, but to work closely with the hardware manufacturer Asus, even though they own Motorola. This is because they do not want to scare off their Android Partners. Google makes it’s money not from the devices themselves,  but from the search ads on Google-integrated Android devices and from purchases in the Play store. Therefore it is in Google’s best interest that Android spreads as fast and as far as possible. So right now Google’s partners need not worry as much, because Google is mostly using Motorola for it’s patents, but as it becomes more and more of a hardware manufacturer (think Google Glasses and the Nexus Q), it will probably start to manufacture it’s flagship products.

Microsoft made a bold move to cut out the middle-man and build the Surface themselves. Whereas Google gives their operating system away for free and makes money on the backend, Microsoft makes their money upfront by charging license fees for each device a manufacturer builds . The license fee for a Windows 8 Surface is somewhere around $50-$65. So not only does Microsoft have a great advantage in integrated design over their OEM producers, but because they do not have to pay a license fee, none of the OEMs will be able to match their price. Microsoft is basically screwing over all their manufacturing partners to compete with Google and Apple head-on. Many people think this is just to get Windows 8 tablet market share, and that they will eventually step back and just take their fees. I don’t know if I buy this theory, but I guess they really had no other choice. All of this should tell you how important and competitive the tablet market is going to be in the coming years for the Tech Titans.

The other front of the battle between the Tech Titans is the smartphone market and the trend towards vertical integration directly effects the smartphone market. The more vertically integrated forms of these companies will likely lead to higher and higher quality smartphones as the economics of scale and more powerful technology of tablets, trickles down. The technology in smartphones has already gotten cheap and powerful enough that there is really no longer such thing as a dumb phone. The graph above illustrates that 2 out of 3 phones purchased in the last three months was a smart phone and not a feature phone.

This is the lowest percentage of smart phones there will ever be, as there will pretty much only be smartphones from here on out. The only things holding the total proliferation of smartphones back, are the increased costs of data plans and the small percentage of late adopters out there. It is now possible to get an Android phone with unlimited voice, data and messaging for less than $50 a month, so it is really only a matter of time until the market catches up.

Smartphones and tablets are definitely the next era of technology for the future. The question is, which company’s strategy is going to win?

TechCrunch Disrupt 2012 Photos and Videos NYC

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techcrunch disrupt 2012 nyc photos

TechCrunch Disrupt Photos 2012 NYC

UPDATE: If you are looking for day 2/3 Photos they will be up by Monday…

Check the slideshow for more pictures from TechCrunch Disrupt 2012 in NYC. The pictures below are from the hackathon one Saturday and the awards on Sunday afternoon here in New York City. The TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon went over really well and created some great talent, which is showcased below and will be showcased more in-depth as we go.

The New York City version of TechCrunch Disrupt brings the West Coast style to the Big Apple. The event is held in the gigantic Pier 94 near 12th ave and 54th Street on New York West Side. The main part of the event is the large stage in the back that has a constant flow of talks, fireside chats, panels and interviews.


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Everything Will Always Take Longer Than You Think

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Everything will always take a lot longer than you think. For example, the last two days we spent shooting a video. I honestly though the thing would take a few hours, but the director of the video told me, you should block off two days. Boy was he right about that.

I put in a rental for two days for some lights and when I picked them up, I asked the guy, if we finish early today, can I bring them back and not be charged for the second day? He said of course, but on the second day, I was barely able to return the lights before they closed because we ended up shooting til the deadline. Something that appears so simple on the surface, generally ends up being a lot more complicated the deeper into it you get.


Amara’s Law

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Amara’s Law is stated as: [message type=”custom” width=”100%” start_color=”#FFFCB5″ end_color=”#F4CBCB” border=”#BBBBBB” color=”#333333″]”We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in  the long run.”.[/message]

This quote applies to text messages because some people think that text messages have already had their heyday and that they are on the decline. What they don’t realize is that text messaging is still increasing. While the growth rate of person-to-person text messaging is has slowed down a little, the growth of application-to-person (a2p) is accelerating like crazy. NatMobi’s technology is considered application-to-person because a our system can send and receive text messages.

Text messaging may seem trivial, but in reality text messaging is the best means of communication around. Email has less than a 20% open rate over two days, whereas text messaging has a 95% open rate within 4 minutes. Once received, the message is read almost immediately.

We have a method of legally being able to send messages to users. They must opt-in through a simple process by texting a certain word to our phone number. This ensure that people do not receive unconsolidated text messages. This means that the list only has people who are excited to receive a text message alert.

Even though the technology works and has been proven by us and others in the market, many people still think that text messages are passe’. I believe they are wrong and that Amara’s law will prove true for text messaging.

One of the main reasons I predict this is because text messages work across nearly every device, regardless of whether the phone is an Apple, Android, or Windows phone. There is not going to be any other unifying technology for many years to come. If Web Apps win as many predict, then their method of choice for updates is likely to be a text message. SMS is to phones, what email is to computer. Texting will also be around for a while because no single company owns it and the carriers actually make a lot of profit off of SMS.

Apple, on the other hand,  has very strict rules about what can and can’t be done in the App Store and if you don’t comply or Apple decides they don’t like you, tough luck, your business is now dead. Also, if you think about it, the most popular app on a smartphone is actually the SMS app. Most people send SMS much more often than they make a call.

From where we are today, text messaging’s long-term viability and potential is really underestimated for the longterm. NatMobi is taking advantage of this fact and rapidly gaining market share and positioning itself to capitalize on the long-term trend towards text message marketing.


Startup Ideas and Recap From 3 Day Startup NYC

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This past weekend, NatMobi sponsored an event called 3 Day Startup, where college students get together and try to launch a startup in 3 days. It was interesting to be an observer and watch the process by which brainstorming and random ideas played out into results over only 60 hours.

On Friday I was a mentor and went around to the different groups as they exchanged possible ideas of what to make. At first many of their ideas were aimed at large, overreaching goals. While it is admirable to try and solve such large problems, it is pretty difficult to attack a broad problem, especially in such a short time. My advice to them was to try and hone their idea down to a single, identifiable problem and figure out how they could solve it really well with just one feature. One of the apps, HungryNow, did just that (not necessarily based on my advice), and made an app that solves the problem of telling you the nearest restaurant that is open right now. Their app was the most polished of the 5 and will probably make it to the App Store in the next few days.

Another type of idea that was widespread among the students was the idea of creating a marketplace. Marketplaces are very seductive ideas at first glance because you know people buy and sell good X, so why not just create a place where that can take place, take a cut of each sale or charge for listing the items and and bam! you’ve got a successful company. The problem is though, when you get down to the nuts and bolts of creating a marketplace there are many inherent barriers to the model that are difficult to overcome, regardless of the product. The most prescient problem is the 2-sided market problem (also called the  “chicken or egg problem”) where you have to figure out how to get sellers for the product when you have no buyers, and at the same time, figure out how to get buyers for the market when you have no sellers. This is not an easy of a problem to solve, and is one of the biggest hurdles in creating a marketplace (most companies seed the listings or “cheat” like AirBNB). However, I was not at the event to tell the students what they shouldn’t do and so while I mentioned things like the Chicken or Egg problem, I was not too headstrong with my advice. Out of 5 startups that came out of the event, 3 of them are marketplaces…

Another good type of idea to attempt at a hackathon or similar event is anything that does social good. These types of companies and apps always strike a chord with the audience and are usually going into a less-crowded market. It is also a lot easier to get press if your company does good (not that making profit isn’t good…). In the 3 Day Startup event, there was one of these companies, SafetyNet, a social network for the group of people around an at-risk person. I think this is a pretty good idea because in this day-and-age social media makes everyone feel more connected, while actually making them less connected. Because you can “see” what your friends are up to, it makes you less likely to reach out and talk to them. It’s not that big a deal when someone is doing well you don’t connect with them, but if the tone of their social media profile or their real life mood becomes sad or disturbing, it can be difficult for an individual to know when to take action to help out. SafetyNet hopes to solve this problem by facilitating the creation of a social network of “Angels” around an at risk individual who are responsible for notifying the appropriate authority if there is a problem.

On Friday the students narrowed down the ideas and split into individual projects. On Saturday morning, the students went out into the world and did market research to validate or disprove their ideas. All of them came back with their ideas validated and set out to work on prototyping and developing them further. Sunday night the teams presented their ideas to a panel and received feedback. The event was pretty fun, and was a great way for the student entrepreneurs to meet each other and get some experience trying to build a company. I hope that all of the participants will continue to pursue entrepreneurship, even if its not the ideas from the event.

A special thanks goes out to Luke from 3 Day Startup, who ran the event and did a great job.

Below are short summaries of all the companies:


Find food, now.

Hungry now is an app designed to do one thing, help users find a restaurant they can eat at right now. Users open the app, press the giant “I’m Hungry” button and it loads all the nearby restaurants that are open. This project was the furthest along, with the app demo able to geolocate and then find all open and nearby restaurants using the Yelp API.


SafetyNet is a social network to help monitor at-risk individuals.

Students, friends, and family are invited to monitor an individual and can use the SafetyNet to check-in with the at risk person, as well as confer with other members of the SafetyNet to discuss changing in wellbeing of the individual. If enough of the SafetyNet members feel like help is needed for the individual, they can notify the proper authority, such as a parent or health professional whose details have been stored in the app.


Eliminate unqualified job applications with contests.

TechDuel allows companies to evaluate tech talent prior to an interview and help separate the wheat from the chaff. Companies can create a series of tests that allow them to gauge the talent of applicants.


Local Business Social Media Marketing Marketplace.

This is a marketplace to connect small businesses like restaurants and social media marketers. The restaurants and other small businesses can post the jobs they need done and can find the social media managers available in their area and in the proper price range.


Buy and sell your old dresses online.

DressTrade is a marketplace for women to buy and sell their used dresses online. It seeks to make it easy to upload old dresses in your closet and sell it directly to the target market.