Our look at some of the big stories today in mobile: speculation on what Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) might do with its new data center in North Carolina; mobile advertising trends from the IAB and PwC; and two new cloud-based ways for publishers to add functionality to their mobile apps.
— Apple’s Data Center: With the launch of a 505,000-square-foot space in North Carolina to host Apple’s data due to launch this spring, the analysts at Bernstein have made some educated guesses about how it might get used (via ATD):
– Running a bigger iAd system. Given the growth of iOS devices in the year ahead, Apple might use the capacity in NC to handle for ad serving.
– Enhancing MobileMe. This is the perennial favorite of cloud-based media supporters. Apple would extend its back-up system to include backing up media files and being able to use them across multiple devices.
– iTunes subscriptions. Another idea that’s been kicking around the blogosphere, this would potentially pit Apple up against the likes of Spotify or Mog in this pay-once, listen-a-lot streaming music services that we are increasingly seeing on the market.
– Video streaming. Similar iTunes streaming, and competing against the likes of Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and Netflix.
– Voice interface and navigation. This is the least reported of these ideas but an interesting one. As the report notes, it would play on Apple’s acquisitions of voice-powered “assistant” Siri and mapping company PlaceBase, and rival the kinds of voice-recognition and naviation/mapping services being developed by the likes of Google (NSDQ: GOOG). Sticking in my mind here, too, is the slip by Steve Wozniak earlier this year, saying Apple bought the voice recognition company Nuance (something he later admitted was wrong). That does make one wonder just how much Apple really is thinking about voice and how to use it to improve the iOS experience.
— Mobile ad trends: Some numbers out from the IAB and PwC on mobile advertising in the UK.
In 2010, advertisers spent a total of £83 million ($136 million) on mobile advertising. That’s still a small number, but it does represent growth of 116 percent over 2009 (and comparing 2009 to 2008, the sum grew by only 32 percent.
And despite all the attention that mobile apps are getting — and the subsequent attention on advertising as a way of generating revenue from mobile apps — the bulk of revenues are still coming from mobile search ads, which accounted for £54.9 million ($90 million) of total revenues, a growth of 172 percent. Display advertising is still smaller but it’s also growing (which should come as good news to companies like Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) that focus on display ads in mobile): they accounted for £28.1 million ($46 million) in revenues, a rise of 61 percent.
Entertainment and Media remains the single biggest vertical for ad spend, accounting for 32.9 percent of total revenues.
This is only the third year that the IAB has been keeping records on mobile ad spend.
— Mobile cloud services: Two new services out from vendors that are looking to tap into the move of developers to use cloud-based services when developing mobile apps.
– mBlox has launched a service that lets developers push apps and data updates for apps based on parameters such as location, signal strength, and the battery strength of a particular device; the system can also send data to “wake up” dormant apps. Developers can use interactive tools then to monitor how the campaign or data spread is progressing, as well as monitor any financial transactions that get made as a result.
– appMobi’s SDK, which it has branded its XDK, is the other cloud-based app development offering launched this week.This one covers one-touch mobile payments, which can be used for web purchases as well as physical goods; more push notifications based on device/geography; more analytics; and the ability to push app updates without having to update via an app store.