As it has throughout 2010, the consumer smartphone market significantly dominated tech chatter on the web this week. With the holiday shopping season and the end of the year looming, the week's hottest technology news reveals that major technology companies, such as Apple and Research In Motion, have a lot to gain – and lose – in the next few weeks.
Smartphone ownership in the United States rose 14 percent in the three-month period ending in October compared to the previous three months, according to a report from market research firm comScore. The report, which found nearly one-quarter of all mobile phone customers in the U.S. use a smartphone, ended a positive week for the consumer technology sector.
As expected by most industry experts and analysts, Cyber Monday – ecommerce’s answer to Black Friday – yielded massive returns for web-based retailers. In an additional report released Wednesday, comScore found U.S. consumers spent more than $1 billion on the web Monday. The figures proved more than satisfactory for retailers and officials who hope the holiday season would boost a still struggling economy. ComScore reported consumers spent $887 million on Cyber Monday last year – 16 percent less than they did in 2010.
Growing smartphone use likely contributed to the improved sales for ecommerce vendors this year, according to both eBay and market research firm BIGresearch. Both reported the ease of mobile commerce, which allows consumers to make purchases and browse items directly from their handsets.
The rise of mobile commerce proved a popular search topic in the news this week, with more than 3,000 Google News results related to "mobile commerce." Overall, mcommerce is likely to generate at least $1.5 billion in revenue for eBay in 2010, compared to the $600 million it produced last year.
Improved performance from smartphones will likely contribute to further mcommerce use in coming years. On Tuesday, Research In Motion, manufacturer of the popular BlackBerry smartphone line, saw its stock rise 5.4 percent to more than $63 per share after spending most of the year between $45 and $50. Based on comScore’s report, RIM’s performance may be surprising to many, as its smartphone market share in the U.S. fell 3.5 percent from July to October. However, the success of the BlackBerry Torch, which initially struggled, has helped the company rebound.
Despite the success of the Torch, Nielsen expects RIM to experience further consumer smartphone decline in the coming months. A web search for the research firm's latest report, entitled "Smartphone Battle Heats Up," produces more than 14,000 results, indicating mobile forecasts were a hot tech topic.
Nielsen's study found Apple’s iPhone and phones running on Google’s Android mobile operating system are the most desired among mobile customers planning an upgrade. Thirty percent stated Apple’s iPhone is their likely choice, while 28 percent plan to invest in Android-powered devices. RIM was third with 13 percent.
Online tech chatter this week also made clear that many technology experts looking ahead to 2011 believe Apple and Google will continue to strengthen their combined hold on the market, while fighting for supremacy.
For most of 2010, reports of an agreement between Apple and Verizon regarding the iPhone have dominated headlines. The web was abuzz this week about a potential statement from both companies. As tech enthusiasts avidly searched for news on Verizon's Wednesday launch of its 4G LTE network, most expected it would be followed by the official statement from both companies about the iPhone’s availability through Verizon. Computerworld and other IT news organizations have reported the 4G network is unlikely to provide service for any smartphones in its infancy.
Verizon does currently offer Apple’s iPad, which is expected to overtake the ereader market in 2011, according to ChangeWave Research. According to the firm, 42 percent of consumers planning to purchase an ereader in the next 90 days will invest in an iPad, rather than an Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble Nook. Moreover, news about the growing market for tablets abounded this week – Google Realtime results for "2011 tablets" show it is a prominent part of online conversations.
Next week, tech searches may reflect consumers' hope for the iPhone’s availability through Verizon. Plus, the launch of Verizon’s 4G network in 38 U.S. cities, as well as other consumer technology developments will be interesting to watch.