This week’s top digital trends: Emails going missing | Xmas e-tail spend | Recession-proof jobs | PC rage | Online divorces | Customer service | Tablet sales | National Debt | US mobile data revenues
Emails that consumers actually want ‘increasingly going missing’
More than one in eight emails requested by European consumers went missing completely – not in subscribers’ spam folders or inboxes, blocked by ISPs before reaching subscribers – in the first half of 2010. This compares to one in nine going missing in the second half of 2009.
More than one in six requested emails went undelivered, either reaching subscibers’ spam folders or going missing totally, rising from one in seven not being delivered since the previous figures in December 2009. The study also reveals UK ISP Demon was the hardest ISP for marketers to reach the inbox.
£8.1bn to be spent online for Christmas
PEER 1 Hosting, the global online business hosting provider, is predicting the biggest ever peak in online shopping this Christmas after survey results show Britons are increasing their festive budgets and plan to buy more gifts online than ever before. ‘Cyber Monday’, which this year will fall on Monday 6th December, is predicted be a peak traffic day, as people log on to kick-start their Christmas shopping.
When surveyed, a staggering 88% of respondents in the United Kingdom said they will spend more online this year than they ever have before. Just over half said they actually found it easier to shop for Christmas gifts online compared to physically going to the shops in one of Britain’s high streets. PEER 1 Hosting has warned many online retailers could be under prepared for the demand on their servers as the survey also showed that almost 40% of people will leave their shopping until December, which will cause huge increases in traffic.
UK’s most recession-proof jobs
Payroll data made public for the first time by Bacs Payment Schemes Ltd (Bacs), the organisation behind Direct Debit and Bacs Direct Credit, has produced a fascinating insight into the UK job sectors hit hardest by the recession. With over 90 per cent of the UK workforce paid via Bacs Direct Credit, it is possible to use the data to highlight trends across 14 key sectors and reveal the real winners and losers over the last three years.
Hardest hit is the construction sector which has seen a 25% slump in the number of Bacs salary and wage payments from August 2007 to August 2010. The transport, storage and communication sector also witnessed a substantial drop of just under 19%, while manufacturing decreased by nearly 15% over the three year period. Meanwhile a 7% decrease in Bacs salary and wage payments in the hospitality sector is illustrative of the down-turn in the travel and entertainment industries seen during the recession.
On the other hand, mining and quarrying (8%), health and social work (7%), and education (3%) all welcomed a small increase in Bacs salary and wage payments over the same period, highlighting a more resilient nature to the sectors. The agricultural sector, often held up as being recession-proof, experienced a 2% increase.
Rage against the machine: Brits admit kicking and punching faulty PCs
More than 1.5 million Britons have attacked their computer when it plays up, according to research. Computer problems and slow loading times make Britons so angry that more than 1.5 million admit to physically attacking their PCs in rage. One respondent to the PC Tools study said that they even put their laptop in a fish tank. Over a quarter of users bang their keyboard or mouse, 45 per cent swear at their computer and almost a third shout and scream “out of pure frustration”.
The research found that the main causes of frustration were slow-running programs, slow internet connections and PCs taking too long to start up. Nearly one in 10 wait for more than five minutes for their computer to boot each time which equates to wasting a whole day every year waiting for computers. PC Tools advises deleting old and unused files and making sure your PC is clear of malware.
Online Divorce rates in UK increase by 34%
Divorce-Online, a national provider of online divorce services, reports that in 2010, increasing numbers of UK citizens turned to the web to file a divorce. This may be good news for the economy. According to economic experts, during times of acute economic distress, many people are deterred by financial insecurity from filing for divorce, which they delay until they feel more confident. Accordingly, the increase in the number of online divorces may actually be good news as it shows confidence in the economy is stronger than the statistics provided by the Government.
According to data compiled by leading online divorce forms website Divorce-Online, even though 2010 is not yet over, statistics already show that more UK citizens are filing for divorce online in 2010 than in 2009, up by 34%. According to Divorce-Online MD Mark Keenan “During 2010, there has been a 34% increase in online divorce service orders compared to 2009. It appears that as people feel more financially secure, they are ready to move on with their lives after failed relationships. We have experienced a substantial increase in the number of orders our Divorce-Online service and for financial consent orders which regulate a couples finances after the divorce.
Home services companies ‘switch off’ when it comes to customer service
The latest eHomeServices Benchmark study from eDigitalResearch reveals a decline in customer service across the sector, with email queries either going unanswered or not being appropriately handled within a 48 hour window. As customer expectations for e-commerce grow, eDigitalResearch is advising utility providers, broadband suppliers and property companies to better integrate their customer service function or else face losing business. The study used online mystery shoppers to assess the websites of 21 of the leading organisations across home service providers in the telephones, broadband, utilities and property markets.
The study revealed that more than half of the websites surveyed scored below 50% (‘very poor’) for email customer service. The top performers were British Gas, O2 and Hamptons, who all came in the top four for the relevance and speed of their response to email enquiries. The survey assessed websites across the entire online customer experience, from the moment they click onto a home page through to product search, the account area and the supporting customer service function. Overall, homepages were found to be cluttered and uninspiring, with average scores peaking within the account area. When it comes to managing their accounts, customers expect personalised content in their user areas and over half of the websites didn’t disappoint. British Gas and Rightmove were particularly praised for their interactive features which helped customers to reduce their energy bills and pinpoint an exact geographical location for their property search.
While interactive features are important, the top performers balanced this with fast page loads, clearly marked menus and tabs for easy navigation and a strong customer service function. O2 was found to be particularly responsive in dealing with both telephone and email enquiries, with all queries answered quickly and courteously. This helped to propel O2 into second position behind British Gas.Overall rankings were based on the consistency across all benchmark measures with British Gas and O2 closely contesting the first position, scoring 78.3% and 78.1% respectively. The variance between the highest and lowest performer was a staggering 27%, suggesting that companies within this sector need to do more to ensure that the customer has a consistent experience from the homepage to the checkout.
Global Tablet Device Shipments to Exceed 80 million annually by 2015
The number of annual shipments for tablet devices will reach 81 million by 2015* as an increasing number of consumer electronics players and handset manufacturers enter the market, finds Juniper’s latest report. The Android Operating system is allowing both new players and existing device manufacturers to join the market and product launches have taken place already from companies such as Dell with the ‘Streak’ and Samsung with the Galaxy Tab.
“Competition to Apple is likely to arrive in earnest in 2011, though by then Apple is likely to be ready to launch a new version of the iPad, reinforcing its market position,” says Anthony Cox, Senior Analyst at Juniper Research.
Further findings from the tablets report include:
• Apple, as first to market with its compelling hardware and content combination, will maintain market lead for the medium term
• Although Android will be widely adopted by new entrants, products using QNX (for Blackberry), Windows Phone 7 and MeeGo will come to market in 2011
• The netbook market will be pressured by tablets though it will remain resilient in the business market
• Incumbent handset manufacturers such as Nokia are challenged through the increasing sophistication of Apple iOS and Android
According to the report, handset manufacturers with the longest history in the market and a close association to a specific operating system face the most considerable challenges. The quality of both Apple’s iOS and the Android operating system has affected RIM, Microsoft and Nokia the most.
These companies have all developed new operating systems, but they are taking a long time to bring products to the market. This has allowed Apple to consolidate its lead and Android to become the operating system of choice for new players.
Most Brits ‘would consider buying a tablet device ‘
With Samsung’s Galaxy Tab available to buy on Monday 1st November, and Apple expected to sell 12 million iPads by the end of the year, there has been extensive speculation about the impact the rise to prevalence of the tablet PC market may have on regular PC and netbook sales in coming years . Global sales of tablet PCs are expected to reach 19.5 million units in 2010 and are expected to rise by a further 181% to 54.8 million units by 2011, according to analyst firm Gartner. New research from Kelkoo, the online shopping comparison website, supports this projection and reveals that over half (54%) of UK consumers would consider buying a tablet computer, of which a third (33%) is planning to do so in the next six months, and with 35% of consumers claiming they would chose to buy a tablet PC over a laptop.
Although Apple has been credited with reversing the fortunes of the tablet PC market, its market dominance is being challenged for the first time by a series of rivals, including the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which has been hailed as the iPad’s first serious contender and offers additional features such as phone calls, a camera and Adobe flash 10.1. However, the iPad is expected to remain the most popular choice with over two thirds (69%) of consumers opting for the Apple tablet, followed by Samsung’s Galaxy Tab (15%) and Blackberry’s Playbook (11%).
Of those preferring Samsung’s model, over one third (35%) said they would choose the Galaxy Tab because of its smaller size and greater portability, its increased functionality in the form of its additional capacity as a phone (29%), and the inclusion of Adobe Flash (27%). The Galaxy Tab’s screen measure just 7 inches versus the iPad’s 9.7 inch screen and it is also around half the weight (380g vs. 680g). Of all of those questioned, over one in five (23%) said that phone functionality, and a camera were important elements to include in a tablet PC – all features that Apple’s iPad does not currently offer.
However, when it comes to screen size, 80% of those questioned would prefer a 10 inch screen over a 7 inch one (18%). A finding strongly supported by the Apple boss at its quarterly results announcement, where Steve Jobs heavily criticised the launch of 7 inch tablet PCs, claiming “we think these seven-inch tablets will be dead on arrival. They’ll learn the painful lesson that they’re too small and have to expand them next year.” Jobs added: “The only way they’re going to sell is if they come with sandpaper, because you’re going to have to sand people’s fingers down so they can work it…” He finished by describing them as “…too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad.”
Christmas 2010: Online shopping more popular than last year
Twenga, the new-generation shopping search engine, has analysed online buying behaviour across six European countries, including the UK. The figures show that while the motivation to shop online this Christmas differs from country to country, online shopping over walking the high streets is the preferred method by all. The vast majority (91%) of British respondents choose online shopping because they like to be able to shop at any time, night or day, and 88% enjoy having presents delivered directly to their home. British respondents also think shopping online is cheaper (84%) and 83% feel it is less tiring and stressful than physically going to the shops. Two other online shopping perks noted by the Brits is having gifts delivered directly to their family or friends (60%) and the ability to shop while at work (41%). The volume of online Christmas shopping is increasing in all regions, but more in the UK than anywhere else where the majority of Brits are planning to buy more online with a growth of 61% compared to Christmas shopping in 2009.
45% of public in the dark about the national debt
Almost half of British adults could not identify the size of the national public debt in a survey of more than 2,000 UK residents commissioned by London PR agency TopLine Communications to understand how well government is communicating one of its biggest issues.
When presented with four options, 55% put the debt at the then correct figure of £815 billion (to July 2010) and 24% of the sample considered the national public debt to be no more than £815 million, a tenth of the true value.
Almost a fifth – 18% – thought we owe £815 trillion, and an astonishing 3% believed this to be a mere £815 thousand.
Heather Baker, Director of PR at TopLine Communications, comments: “These results are illuminating and highlight the need for the government to communicate better with the public. If claims that David Cameron is worth millions are to be believed, one questions whether 3% of the population is scratching their heads wondering why he hasn’t paid off the national debt out of his own pocket!
“With the Comprehensive Spending Review only hours away, we hope that Mr Osborne will leave enough for departments such as the Treasury and the Office for National Statistics to focus on a communications campaign to clear up some of the confusion.”
The research was conducted by Opinium in September 2010.
North American Operator Non-Voice Revenues to Approach $100 billion by 2015
A new study by Juniper Research estimates that operator revenues from non-voice services will almost double to $96.7 billion by 2015, up from $56.0 billion in 2010, driven by consumer adoption of data-hungry devices, such as, smartphones and tablets.
The North American Mobile Market report forecasts that, despite this rise, growth in total operator revenues will slow year-on-year, as a result of the start of the decline in voice revenues. Meanwhile, according to report author Daniel Ashdown, “voice revenues are deteriorating as the subscriber market saturates and competition places pressure on voice bundle pricing”.
In order to offset this decline, operators are focusing on attractive data bundles. However Juniper Research expresses concern about abandoning unlimited data plans and returning to tiered data pricing in the report, given that this was one of the key factors behind the iPhone/App Store and the smartphone revolution in general.
Other findings in the North American Mobile report include:
• Penetration in North American countries, and particularly in Canada, still significantly lower than in other developed markets, a strong indication of further room for growth in this region
• Smartphone technology has revolutionised Social Networking through use of GPS, and as a result is creating exciting marketing opportunities for businesses
• Increase in mobile ticketing revenue in North America driven by airlines’ usage of mobile technology in airline tickets and boarding passes