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Tablets with voice calling functions take off in Asia

IDG News Service

Using a tablet to make a phone call may sound unorthodox. But in Asia’s emerging markets, vendors are increasingly shipping 7-inch tablets with voice call functions, according to research firm IDC.

During the second quarter, electronics vendors shipped 13.8 million tablets to the Asia Pacific region, excluding Japan, IDC said on Wednesday. Of those tablets, 25 percent were designed for voice calls over a cellular network. This marked a jump of 10 percentage points from the first quarter.

Voice call tablets are taking off in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, said Avinash Sundaram, an IDC analyst, who added that it had become a trend unique to Asia.

Although large screen phones are already popular, some consumers in the region have tighter budgets, and want a product that merges all their electronic needs into a single device, Sundaram said.

“They don’t want to walk around with a phone, tablet and PC,” he said. “This is basically addressing budgetary needs.”

Vendors releasing these products include Samsung, which early on incorporated voice call features into its tablets, along with Asus, Huawei and Lenovo. But smaller vendors such as India’s Micromax and Indonesia’s Advan Digital are also fueling the market with rival tablets.

“We definitely see this as a vendor strategy to help differentiate their products,” Sundaram said. Many of these tablets cost between US$100 to $300.

It’s still not known how many consumers in Asia use their tablets for voice calls. But vendors are marketing the features in their advertisements.

“If we look at advertising campaigns in India, Indonesia, they call it a tablet with voice option,” Sundaram said. Vendors could conceivably put cellular features into all their tablets. But bigger companies such as Samsung might refrain from doing so, to better position their smart phone products, he added.

“From a vendor perspective, they want to target every single kind of device, as opposed to selling one kind of device,” he said. “There are no technical hurdles. It’s more about product strategy.”

Worldwide Software-Defined Networking Market Expected to Reach $8 Billion by 2018, According to IDC

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 300x99 Worldwide Software Defined Networking Market Expected to Reach $8 Billion by 2018, According to IDC

Software-defined networking (SDN) continues to gain ground within the broader enterprise and cloud service provider markets for datacenter networking. According to a new forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC), the worldwide SDN market for the enterprise and cloud service provider segments will grow from $960 million in 2014 to over $8 billion by 2018, representing a robust CAGR of 89.4%. This forecast for the SDN ecosystem includes in-use physical network infrastructure, controller and network-virtualization software, SDN network and security services and related applications, and SDN-related professional services.

Software-defined networking is an innovative architectural model that is capable of delivering automated provisioning, network virtualization, and network programmability to datacenter and enterprise networks. SDN has emerged as a key driver for innovation and change in networking as several market and technology factors converge:

  • Growth of cloud applications and services across enterprise and cloud providers
  • Focus on converged infrastructures (compute/storage/network) and on the software-defined datacenter
  • Lessons learned regarding the benefits and best practices of server virtualization have become apparent
  • Increased demand for network flexibility to support mission-critical technologies based on 3rd Platform technologies, particularly cloud, mobility, Big Data, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications

“SDN is taking center stage among innovative approaches to some of the networking challenges brought about by the rise of the 3rd Platform, particularly virtualization and cloud computing,” said Rohit Mehra, Vice President, Network Infrastructure at IDC. “With SDN’s growing traction in the datacenter for cloud deployments, enterprise IT is beginning to see the value in potentially extending SDN to the WAN and into the campus to meet the demand for more agile approaches to network architecture, provisioning, and operations.”

IDC sees significant near-term use case opportunities for SDN in both cloud service provider rollouts and enterprise deployments. Although enterprises are largely still testing the waters to see what benefits will accrue from SDN, IDC sees the enterprise market as a major driver of overall SDN growth over the next several years. “The 2014 through 2016 period will be a significant launch point for SDN in the enterprise, with significant growth opportunities for both enterprise-focused SDN infrastructure and cloud service providers,” said Brad Casemore, Research Director, Datacenter Networks.

Among the use cases for SDN are the following:

  • Web scaling for hosting/public cloud providers
  • Private/hybrid cloud deployments
  • Network programmability/customization
  • Security applications

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Organizational Tips for Leading the Marketing Transformation

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 300x99 Organizational Tips for Leading the Marketing Transformation

By Kathleen Schaub 

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the marketing transformation? You aren’t alone.  An IDC analysis of tech marketing staff changes since 2009 reveals that CMOs have had to squeeze traditional staff functions to accommodate five new roles: analytics/business intelligence, marketing technology, social marketing, sales enablement, and campaign management. In 2013, these new five roles collectively made up 14% of the total marketing staff. 

IDC invited organizational change expert, Dr. Rick Mirable, to advise our clients on insights for leading more successful organizational change initiatives. Here are some of the tips that Dr. Mirable, who has more than 20 years of diverse business consulting and academic experience, offered:
  • What we believe about change determines how we will respond to change. People hold beliefs about the capability of both company culture and individual people’s ability to change. Good change initiatives raise awareness of these biases.
  • Successful change initiatives require that leaders be included. It’s not only individuals deep in the organization that need transformation, but leaders must also be role models for the change they want to see.
  • People resist change for many reasons. Change can threaten our sense of security (What will happen to me?) and our sense of competence (Can I learn new skills?). People may worry they will fail. They may not understand why change is needed. Companies may inadvertently reward people who resist change by penalizing people who try new things and fail.
  • Some resistance to change comes from unspoken resentment. Companies must allow for expression of the relevant “inner conversations” that people have with themselves about the change — views that are not explicit to others. Resentment is like dirty laundry — if you don’t get rid of it eventually it starts to smell!
  • Some change initiatives fail simply because the organization isn’t ready.Assess your readiness and then bring those areas found lacking up to speed before embarking.
  • The communication portions of most change efforts are weak and not consistent over the long haul. The communication must be open and bidirectional. Messages and goals need to be regularly repeated and reinforced.
  • Company culture is essential to sustaining success over time. One cultural attribute proven to accelerate change is the empowerment of individuals to make decisions that further the change goals. It is a best practice to ask people what they want to do (and ask for management permission to do it) rather than telling them what to do. This practice encourages innovation and accountability and drives change deeper in the organization.
  • Don’t confuse “movement” with progress. When you get off the freeway during a traffic jam, you may be able to move faster; however, that movement doesn’t guarantee that you are actually moving toward your destination or will get to it any more quickly. IDC notes that marketing teams that measure activity rather than outcomes are making this error.
  • Create circumstances for people to motivate themselves. Motivation can include extrinsic rewards such as money. Proven to be even more effective are intrinsic rewards — challenge, learning, responsibility, contribution, and career path advancement. Intrinsic rewards tap into the power of people’s passions. Companies are advised to structure people’s work so as to allow passion to surface.
  • Reduce resistance by creating a “burning platform.” Clarify the risks and benefits of the change and involve the collective wisdom of the group. Give people a role in the change. Involve a person’s “head” and “heart” as well as the “feet” of required actions.

For more blogs and research from IDC, click here

IDC Retail Insights Presents Big Data and Analytics Foundation for Next Generation Revenue Management

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 300x99 IDC Retail Insights Presents Big Data and Analytics Foundation for Next Generation Revenue Management

IDC Retail Insights  today announced the availability of a new report, “Business Strategy: Big Data and Analytics Lay the Foundation for Revenue Growth,” (Document # RI250177) which describes the Big data and analytics (BDA) foundation for revenue growth and charts the likely rapid evolution of new capabilities. The report presents a framework for understanding successive generations of product intelligence, leading to a new paradigm — participatory commerce. This paradigm trains evolved market intelligence on a much larger opportunity — the triple win of merchandise economics, promotional spend, and customer satisfaction.

  • ClicktoTweet, “@IDCInsights #IDCRetailInsights Presents #BigData&Analytics Foundation for #NextGeneration #RevenueManagement – will propel #BDA”

BDA will increase revenue growth through optimized pricing, and create new opportunities to improve assortments, new products, marketing, and other demand generators. Product intelligence creates new facets of market and competitive insight through price discovery in the near term, with broader reach into assortments, private labels, and management of private label and national brands. Within five years in the context of “give-to-get” shoppers, combined with forces like supply chain collaboration among retailers and brands, self-learning intelligent agents, and autonomous event-processing, product intelligence will lead to participatory commerce.

Key highlights of the report include:

  • In 2013, approximately 50% of retailers were aiming BDA at pricing strategies, market intelligence, and customer acquisition. More retailers will join their ranks over the next two to three years.
  • Price intelligence, a subset of product intelligence, is emerging as the initial set of capabilities aligned to support these BDA initiatives. Beyond discovering prices and supporting better pricing decisions, product intelligence sheds light on competitors’ pricing strategies and tactics, assortments, localization, and channel strategies as well as on consumer decision making when combined with psychological techniques.
  • Price discovery gives retailers a countermeasure in the “spy versus spy” world of price transparency, providing them an analytical advantage but leaving consumers with the edge when comparing prices online in the context of their purchase journeys. Next-best-action analytics remain a seller’s key tool against the consumer’s contextual advantage.
  • As already evident in the 2013 holiday shopping season — supported by price discovery, predictive analytics, and real-time ecommerce price management — high-speed algorithmic pricing will break constraints on price change cadences and create breakneck “channel chess” competition.
  • In the context of supply chain collaboration, give-to-get consumers, self-learning intelligent agents, and autonomous event-processing product intelligence will create opportunities for participatory commerce — marketplaces wherein transactions based on the buying, selling, and buying intentions of participating retailers, brands, and consumers will improve merchandise economics, returns on promotional spending, and customer satisfaction.

“In particular, one application of product intelligence, price discovery, gives retailers a countermeasure versus the ‘spy versus spy’ price transparency of retail today,” said Greg Girard, program director at IDC Retail Insights. “Next-generation product intelligence in consumer decision making, competitor tactics, and market conditions will propel BDA-based revenue initiatives beyond pricing further into marketing, assortments, buying, and product development.”

For additional information about this report or to arrange a one-on-one briefing with Greg Girard, please contact Sarah Murray at 781-378-2674 orsarah@attunecommunications.com. Reports are available to qualified members of the media. For information on purchasing reports, contact insights@idc.com; reporters should email sarah@attunecommunications.com.

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With Year-on-Year Growth of 84% in the Second Quarter, India Smartphone Market Still Has Immense Potential, Says IDC

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 300x99 With Year on Year Growth of 84% in the Second Quarter, India Smartphone Market Still Has Immense Potential, Says IDC

The smartphone market in India has maintained its growth impetus with smartphone shipments achieving year-on-year growth of 84% in Q2 2014 and a quarter-over-quarter growth of 11%. The potential for future growth in the smartphone market remains quite high as 71% of the market continues to be on feature phones.

According to International Data Corporation (IDC), the overall India mobile phone market stood at 63.21 million units in Q2 2014, a 5% increase over Q1 2014. The quarter-over-quarter growth can be attributed to both product categories (i.e. smartphones and feature phones).  Back-to-back volume growth in the smartphone market is also being noted due to the re-defined, low-price smartphone models and continuous migration from feature phones to smartphones.

The Indian smartphone market grew by 84% year-on-year in Q2 2014. According to IDC Asia Pacific Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker (excluding Japan),vendors shipped a total of 18.42 million Smartphones in Q2 2014 compared to 10.02 million in the same period of 2013. The sub-$200 category of the smartphone market is increasing in terms of new shipment share as the contribution from this category stood at 81% in Q2 2014. With the influx of Chinese vendors and Mozilla’s plans to enter the smartphone category at the $50 price level, the low-end segment of the smartphone market will become crucial in the coming quarters.

The shipment of “Phablets” (5.5 inch – 6.99 inch screen size Smartphone) in Q2 2014 was noted to be 5.4% of the overall smartphone segment. The phablet category grew by 20% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) in terms of sheer volume. More than half of the phablets shipped were in the under-$250 price band and Indian vendors are dominant in the noted price segment.

Jaideep Mehta, Vice President and General Manager – South Asia, IDC says, “While Samsung has held on to its leadership position in the market, it is noteworthy that Micromax is growing faster. Samsung needs to continue to address the low-end of the market aggressively, and also needs a blockbuster product at the high end to regain momentum. Given the current growth rates, there is a real possibility of seeing vendor positions change in the remaining quarters this year.”

“IDC observes that a new entry level price point is being breached by the Indian home grown vendors every quarter. These devices are not equipped with high end specifications and RAM is typically 256 MB. This ultra low cost segment may not sound a viable option to the repeat buyers, but it works well on the targeted segment,” says Karan Thakkar Senior Market Analyst at IDC India.

Q2 2014 has been an exciting quarter for the players in the mobile phone market.  Among the top five vendors, Micromax and Lava were the only ones to have outstripped the market growth. The former grew by 18% and the latter by 54% in the overall phone business.  Micromax not only toppled Nokia to clinch the number 2 spot, but also created a gap between the second and third spot.

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IDC Retail Insights Arms Retailers with IoT Technology Strategy

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 300x99 IDC Retail Insights Arms Retailers with IoT Technology Strategy

IDC Retail Insights today announced the availability of a new report, “Business Strategy: Developing an IoT Technology Strategy,” (Document# RI250271), which outlines how retailers must plan now for IoT, even if IoT hasn’t made it to the top of the priorities list. According to the new report, applied IoT technology positively impacts top and bottom line business performance by improving omni-channel operations and enabling personalized and contextualized interaction with consumers. Understanding the technology landscape and defining a roadmap for IoT implementation requires uncommonly long range planning, but is rewarded with reduced long term implementation costs and total cost of ownership (TCO).

ClicktoTweet, “@IDCRetailInsights Arms #Retailers with #IoT Technology Strategy

The convergence of cloud, mobile, big data/analytics and sensors has created an opportunity for retailers to engage consumers and employees in radically new ways.  Within 5 years consumers will expect that retailers engage them with personalized and contextualized interactions. In the same time frame, if the retailer hasn’t figured out how to improve real time inventory accuracy to 98% or better, they will struggle to close the online or click and collect sale.

This report provides the following advice for retailers:

  • A definition of IoT technology
  • A thorough examination of the technology landscape for IoT (for retailers)
  • Specific steps to developing a IoT technology strategy
  • Guidance for driving retail IoT programs forward

Leslie Hand, research director, IDC Retail Insights, reports that, “Retailers can improve operations, reduce risk and loss, and wow the consumer with IoT enabled capabilities. Now is the time to establish a strategy and develop a roadmap for IoT. A well thought out plan will guide the reduced cost of ownership of IoT technologies, and enable continued agility and innovation. ”

In another new report announced today, Business Strategy: Understanding the IoT Use Cases For Retail, many of the most common use cases that are being implemented today are discussed including product tracking / traceability, interactive consumer engagement and operations, mobile payments, asset management and fleet and yard management.

The IoT journey, rich in opportunities, is also full of challenges – the biggest of which is enabling tactical applications sometimes in isolation of a plan for an architecture designed for IoT. IoT requires an event oriented paradigm, which includes listening, bi-directional messaging, information distribution, and communications over a variety of networks. The architecture for IoT stretches the limits of retail legacy networks.  When evaluating IoT technologies, IDC Retail Insights recommends retailers gain an understanding of the technology landscape for the variety of technologies and the related intersection points as soon as possible

The new report outlines specific steps to developing a IoT technology strategy and emphasizes that retailers interested in engaging the omni-channel consumer with consistent personalized and increasingly contextualized physical and digital interactions, should consider how to build an architecture for IoT that will continue to adapt to consumer interaction patterns and needs. Meanwhile, technology vendors and consultants should help retail enterprises define and understand the IoT opportunities and the path forward.

To learn more about a related IoT report announced today, please visit”Business Strategy: IoT Use Cases for Retail,”

For additional information about this report or to arrange a one-on-one briefing with Leslie Hand please contact Sarah Murray at 781-378-2674 orsarah@attunecommunications.com. Reports are available to qualified members of the media. For information on purchasing reports, contact insights@idc.com; reporters should email sarah@attunecommunications.com.

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Worldwide IT Market Showing Tentative Signs of Improvement, According to IDC

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 300x99 Worldwide IT Market Showing Tentative Signs of Improvement, According to IDC

According to the newly published International Data Corporation (IDCWorldwide Black Book (Doc #250222), recent volatility will gradually give way to a more positive outlook for IT spending in the second half of 2014. With the U.S. and other mature economies mostly heading in the right direction and a significant commercial PC refresh cycle already underway, improvements in business confidence are set to drive a moderate infrastructure upgrade cycle over the next 12-18 months, while investments in software and services will continue to accelerate.

  • ClicktoTweet:  According to @IDC #WorldwideITMarket showing signs of improvement – spending forecast to increase by 4.5% at constant currency 2014

Worldwide IT spending is now forecast to increase by 4.5% in 2014 at constant currency, or 4.1% in U.S. dollars. A significant proportion of this growth is still being driven by smartphones – IT spending excluding mobile phones will increase by just 3.1% this year in constant currency (2.8% in U.S. dollars). Aside from smartphones, the strongest growth will come from software, including rapidly expanding markets such as data analytics, data management, and collaborative applications including enterprise social networks. The 3rd platform pillars of Big Data, Social, Mobile and Cloud will continue to drive virtually all of the growth in IT spending, while spending on 2nd pPlatform technologies will remain effectively flat.

Meanwhile, although some emerging markets remain constrained by macroeconomic and geopolitical wild cards, there is now significant pent-up demand for IT investment that will drive stronger growth next year in markets including India, Brazil, and Russia. Pent-up demand has already driven a significant rebound in both consumer and enterprise IT spending in China this year, as confidence stabilizes. While mature economies are still driving the upside in 2014, emerging markets will once again dominate in 2015.

Cold Snap and Wild Cards Impacted IT Spending, But Underlying Demand is Strong

Some IT market segments performed weaker than expected in the first quarter of 2014 (1Q14), in line with the weather-related slowdown in U.S. output and the impact of wild card events including the conflict in Ukraine. In particular, an overdue enterprise infrastructure refresh cycle was disrupted by short-term declines in business confidence. However, strong underlying demand for this investment cycle will drive improvements in the server, storage, and network infrastructure markets in the coming months.

“At the beginning of 2014, we asserted that businesses would choose to fix the roof while the sun was shining,” said Stephen Minton, Vice President in IDC’s Global Technology & Industry Research Organization (GTIRO). “Unfortunately, the weather was literally much colder than expected during the first quarter. The good news is that the U.S. economic outlook has already brightened and this will drive a period of moderate but long-awaited investment in mission-critical infrastructure over the next year. However, accelerating adoption of cloud services will continue to impact sales of traditional on-premise equipment, packaged software, and IT services. This capital spending cycle will be mild by historical standards.”

PC Refresh Stronger than Expected in Mature Economies, Tablet Shipments Weaker

The commercial PC refresh has proven stronger than originally forecast. As a result, IDC now forecasts PC spending will increase by 3.5% in 2014 (the fastest pace since the post-financial crisis rebound of 2010). Western Europe has also seen an improvement in PC shipments, although PC spending in Europe will still be down by 1% due to average price declines. The PC cycle has already driven a market upturn in Japan, where economic growth and upcoming tax increases drove a surge in capital spending in 2013 (PC spending in Japan increased by 6% last year, but will decline by -4.5% this year).

“The end of support for Windows XP is obviously part of the story, but there has also been a transition of some spending from tablets to PCs as consumers and businesses have allocated disposable income and IT budget to replacing older notebooks and desktops rather than upgrading their relatively new tablets,” said Minton. “The tablet market is also more sensitive to economic wild cards and price competition, now that penetration rates have increased. There’s still plenty of growth ahead for tablets, however, and it would be premature to say that improvements in the consumer PC market represent anything like a reversal of the long-term shift to tablets and hybrids over the long term.”

The U.S. tablet market is now forecast to increase by just 2% this year, but will rebound to 7% growth in 2015 as the PC cycle begins to wane. Worldwide tablet spending has slowed from 29% year-over-year growth last year to 8% in 2014, but will accelerate back to double-digit growth next year (10%). Penetration rates in emerging markets such as China will continue to increase, while some enterprise spending will shift back to tablets.

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Reports of the iPad’s Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated

Mashable

The tablet is dead. At least, that’s what an array of breathless news reports would have you believe. Yes, it’s true that tablet sales are on the decline in many markets and growing slower than others. But don’t believe the unhype; the tablet isn’t going to suffer the same fate as the netbook.

Apple on Tuesday announced its third quarter 2014 earnings. And in what has become a trend, iPad sales failed to meet analyst expectations. Perhaps even more troubling, sales of the iPad were actually down year-over-year, a rarity in a growing market.

Looking at these figures, you can see that although the iPad is still boasting big sales — especially during the holiday quarter — it isn’t continuing to sell in the numbers many analysts predicted it would.

During the earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook attributed the slower sales in part to “market softness in certain parts of the world,” primarily in the United States and Western Europe.

Tablet growth is slowing in developed markets

Apple isn’t the only company seeing a year-over-year decline in tablet sales. According to IDC, the worldwide tablet market grew 11% year over year, but declined sequentially from the first quarter of 2014 by -1.5%.

At the end of May, IDC updated its 2014 worldwide tablet forecast to a growth rate of 12.1% year-over-year. In contrast, tablet sales worldwide grew 51.8% year-over-year in 2013. In other words, the big boom of tablet sales’ glory days are over.

At least, that’s what some pundits and analysts are espousing. And although its true that tablet sales aren’t growing at the same rate in which they were (and are contracting in certain markets, such as the U.S.), that doesn’t mean the category as a hole was a failure or is doomed.

During the earnings call, Tim Cook spoke at length about the slowing iPad sales. He made it a point to note that

“One other point I might add on this, because I think this is interesting,” Cook said. “The market’s very bifurcated on iPad. In the BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India and China] countries, iPad did extremely well. The growth was very high. Like in the China it was [about 50%], in the Middle East it was [about 60%]. Luca may have mentioned those numbers. In the developed countries like the U.S., the market is clearly weaker there.”

Part of the reason that growth might be slowing — or declining — in the United States may simply be a factor of faster market penetration.

According to the Pew Internet Project’s research related to mobile tech, 42% of adults own a tablet computer. That compares favorably with the 58% of American adults that have a smartphone. When once considers that the tablet market is much newer than the smartphone market, the fast adoption rate is likely one reason growth has slowed faster too.

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Worldwide Tablet Market Grows 11% in Second Quarter on Shipments from a Wide Range of Vendors, According to IDC

IDC PMS4colorversion  300x99 Worldwide Tablet Market Grows 11% in Second Quarter on Shipments from a Wide Range of Vendors, According to IDC

The worldwide tablet grew 11.0% year over year in the second quarter of 2014 (2Q14) with shipments reaching 49.3 million units according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDCWorldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. Although shipments declined sequentially from 1Q14 by -1.5%, IDC believes the market will experience positive but slower growth in 2014 compared to the previous year.

“As we indicated last quarter, the market is still being impacted by the rise of large-screen smartphones and longer than anticipated ownership cycles,” said Jean Philippe Bouchard, IDC Research Director for Tablets. “We can also attribute the market deceleration to slow commercial adoption of tablets. Despite this trend, we believe that stronger commercial demand for tablets in the second half of 2014 will help the market grow and that we will see more enterprise-specific offerings, as illustrated by the Apple and IBM partnership, come to market.”

Despite declining shipments of its iPad product line, Apple managed to maintain its lead in the worldwide tablet market, shipping 13.3 million units in the second quarter. Following a strong first quarter, Samsung struggled to maintain its momentum and saw its market share slip to 17.2% in the second quarter.  Lenovo continued to climb the rankings ladder, surpassing ASUS and moving into the third spot in the tablet market, shipping 2.4 million units and grabbing 4.9% markets share. The top 5 was rounded out by ASUS and Acer, with 4.6% and 2.0% share, respectively. Share outside the top 5 grew to an all time high as more and more vendors have made inroads in the tablet space. By now most traditional PC and phone vendors have at least one tablet model in the market, and strategies to move bundled devices and promotional offerings have slowly gained momentum.

“Until recently, Apple, and to a lesser extent Samsung, have been sitting at the top of the market, minimally impacted by the progress from competitors,” said Jitesh Ubrani, Research Analyst, Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. “Now we are seeing growth amongst the smaller vendors and a levelling of shares across more vendors as the market enters a new phase.”

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Google continues to play it close to the vest on mobile ads

VentureBeats

Before Google’s earnings announcement today, many investors and analysts were hoping for details on progress in building and monetizing the massive corporation’s mobile ad network.

It’s an area of Google’s business that continues to see a lack of sunlight, even though it may be the most promising sector that the company’s playing in today.

True to form, in its earnings announcement today, Google again reported mobile ad revenues in a bundle with other ad business lines. Paid clicks from ads served through Google’s AdSense for Search, AdSense for Content, and AdMob businesses (that’s the mobile part) increased approximately 9 percent over the second quarter of 2013 but decreased 5 percent over the first quarter of 2014.

But we really don’t know much about the volume, price, or profitably of Google’s mobile ad business.

“Google has tended to take a holistic approach to advertising,” IDC analyst Scott Strawn tells VentureBeat. They tend to talk about ad results in terms of many different devices, Strawn says, but he wishes the company would talk about mobile cost-per-click numbers specifically.

“They’ve been successful in search and display, but in fact, over time, monitization on mobile should be as good or better,” says IDC analyst Scott Strawn. “But we haven’t really seen more detail, and that’s what’s needed to give investors a greater level of comfort.”

And, of course, when a public company is vague on the results of a business line, the natural reaction is to wonder if it’s hiding an area of poor performance. That skepticism may be warranted. Strawn says he’s talked to Googlers who have said openly that Google was “caught off guard” by the rapid growth in demand for mobile ads.

And, Gartner analyst Andrew Frank says, the industry reasons to believe that Google is facing challenges in mobile.

“It’s an interesting place to watch, especially with the tradeoff about volumes going forward and pricing pressure on clicks, which have been fairly volatile,” Frank told VentureBeat.

Frank explains that the mobile ad market is ruled by a supply-and-demand dynamic: The number of mobile users is going up, but the amount of mobile ad inventory may be increasing even faster. When there’s more inventory than people to view or click, the price of the inventory goes down, and mobile ad profits decline.

Google CFO Pachette said during the earnings call that he “took issue” with a question from an analyst concerning specific results of the mobile ad business.

The research shows that consumers view content on multiple screens, Pachette said. “They might start something on a smartphone or tablet then watch the rest on a smart TV.”

“So it becomes a question of how much attribution to give to each of these elements in the chain of views moving toward a purchase,” Pachette said. “What really matters is that you have a footprint of all of these devices.”

Google doesn’t feel the strong sense of urgency that Facebook felt when it dove into the mobile ad business. Facebook has been successful in mobile ads, the numbers show. Two years ago, people were criticizing the social network for having “no mobile strategy.” Today, mobile ads contribute half of Facebook’s revenue.

Google, meanwhile, is taking its time in what it sees as a developing market. “There’s long runway going forward,” Pachette said today. “I don’t think we have to fear the saturation of smartphone penetration for a while.”