Nobody pays me to write any of the copy on my blog, and should I ever have the good fortune that they do, I will declare it. My main employment is as the owner and principal of The Future Place consultancy. The Future Place provides two key services 1) training and services to industry and academic bodies and 2) consultancy services to companies. The details of the companies I work with are a private matter, but if I blog about any company who has paid The Future Place more than expenses recently (approx. two years) I will mention that they are a client. I hold equity in Virtual Surveys and provide consulting services to them from time to time.
I am paid to run courses for a number of trade bodies and over the last few years clients have included ESOMAR, AMSRS, MRS, and MRIA.
A Guardian article from March has just caught my eye. The article reports a UN study looking at telephone usage globally. The report shows that between 2002 and 2008 the usage of mobile phones increased from 1 billion to 4.1 billion. During the same time fixed line connections limped up from 1 billion to 1.3 billion.
Numerous reports have highlighted the growth of mobile phone only households in the developed economies. The days of assuming that a telephone sample, based on fixed lines, could be approximately representative have gone.
Springwise have an article about a service from ReadyPing. ReadyPing let's restaurants' customers that know their table is ready by sending a text message to them. One advantage, from the restaurant's point of view, is that they get their client's mobile phone number, potentially with with the abiltiy to use it for marketing.
The idea sounds fine, but if it is really a new idea, I am shocked!
Research has an article about a US report showing that about one-third of US homes either do not have a land-line or only use it occasionally. This is something I have been talking about for a couple of years.
In many markets the penetration of access to the Internet is higher than regular use of a land-line, for example Finland and Estonia, and the position is now quite close in the US.
As I have said before, we are in a period of accelerating change, and all the old certainties are breaking down. We need to respond flexibly to challenges facing market research.
Cnet has an interesting article about some US research into who is using the iPhone. Some of the information is what one would expect, they tend to be younger and their phone bills have gone up since getting an iPhone.
Perhaps more interesting is the fact that one-third of iPhone users are carrying a second phone, and a quarter have started using their iPhone instead of a notebook computer. The most popular data function on the iPhone is to read email.
This use data illustrates the power of the iPhone, but may also suggest that it is heading towards a niche, i.e. towards the computer spectrum rather than the communicator spectrum.
I think the real picture will only reveal itself when there are other phones with a similar interface, at that point things like social network browsing via mobile may become major uses of 'phones'.
RFIDs appeared on the scene a few years ago and seemed to promise a wide range of possibilities, but little has appeared to date. Now ESOMAR's Research World magazine has announced that Mediamark has is using RFIDs in waiting rooms to measure magazine readership. More information is available on Mediamark's website.
I suspect that RFIDs will have a major part in research in the future. They will be an essential part of passive tracking schemes, adding to the enormous amount of electronic wake that will be created for all of us. However, RFIDs will create a number of ethical concerns, as will their joint potential for research and marketing.
Lots of sites have been reporting that AOL are discontinuing Netscape, with support being removed from Feb 1st 2008. Most of these did not catch my eye as I was aware that Netscape's share had fallen to 1% or less. However, the Wikinomics blog highlighted that this is another example of how quickly the world is changing, about 12 years ago Netscape had 80%-90% of the browser market
Guy Kawasaki's Truemors site has a post about a WiFi watch which can tell you if there is a WiFi in the area and how strong the signal is. Just push a button and get a reading in the range 0-8.
Whilst this is interesting, I think it is but a foretaste of what is to come. Pushing a button! Way too much work! What many of us will want is a watch or more likely a phone, which gives an option to give constant information about WiFi, 3G, BlueTooth, along with devices that will use any available service to get connected.
Automatic text translation from one language to another is getting better and better, conversion of text to speech is getting better, and voice recognition is making ground. At some point in the future we can imagine speaking into a phone in language A, the voice being converted, translated, and converted back into speech in language B at the other end. At that point technology will have replicated Douglas Adam's Babel Fish, as described in his Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe series of novels.
TechCrunch has an interesting post about how Google has moved a step closer to producing the ultimate Babel Fish. The post reports that Google have enabled their instant chat, Google Talk, to work with translation bots, to enable instant translation. The image below shows a chat taking place with instant translation between English and Chinese.
We are on the brink of bringing a longstanding part of science fiction to life. In twenty, maybe ten, years, tourism will be fundementally different. Communication is going to open up, resulting in .....???
Emiel van Wegen at Research Reinvented has a great post about Internet penetration in Europe, drawn from the Eurostat figures. In particular I like the heat map (shown below) which highlights the countries in terms of Internet penetration, within Europe and nearby countries.
Emiel highlights the fact that Netherlands has the highest per capita levels of Internet penetration and talks about other impressive figures, such as levels of high speed connections.
I found it interesting that the figures for Belgium and Netherlands were so different - does anybody have any thoughts about why Belgium is in the same category as Italy and Ireland?
Emiel's post also provides to link to the Eurostat figures, which are really interesting.