Smartphone Market expected to grow by 50% in 2011

The global smartphone market is growing four times faster than the overall mobile phone market according to the latest projections by the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

IDC’s research suggests that the worldwide smartphone market is expected to grow 49.2% in 2011, with sales likely to exceed 450 million units in 2011 compared to the 303.4 million units shipped in 2010.

This growth is being driven by an ever-growing number of both consumers and business users switching feature phones for more sophisticated smartphones. And Google’s Android operating system is likely to take over as the leading smartphone operating system in 2011, having swiftly achieving the number 2 position last year. It’s also highly likely that an Android powered handset will be the first entry into smartphone ownership for many consumers as handset manufacturers and mobile operators continue to grow the market.

This growth will fuel the trend of continuing growth in internet access via mobile devices. This in turn will see marketers need to respond to changing consumer behaviour with innovation and invention.

Half of small business users accessing email via iPhones

New research from Intermedia, the world’s largest provider of hosted Microsoft Exchange email accounts, indicates that 48.5 percent of small business users who access email from their smartphone now use an iPhone.

Intermedia’s customers are primarily small and mid sized businesses, over half of whom use smartphones to access their accounts. Nearly half (48.5 percent) of the company’s customers who use a mobile device to access their work email are using iPhones. Another 25 percent use BlackBerry, while 12.75 percent use Android-based devices and 13.75 percent use other mobile platforms, including Microsoft’s Windows Mobile or Windows Phone 7.

Intermedia also noted that iPhone users send more emails per user on average, while Android users receive more emails on a per user basis.

Facebook change business pages

This week Facebook changed the way that Facebook business pages work – making them more like the new personal profile pages introduced a short while ago. At first glance the main changes are that the tabs have gone from the top of the page, replaced by navigation links on the left hand side. Meanwhile photos replace the tabs at the top of the page.

As well as changing the way pages look there are a number of other key differences. Probably the most significant is that once you have converted your page to the new format you will be able to choose whether you post as yourself or as your business, by simply checking or un-checking a box. This means you can now use your business page to post on other business pages (but not on someone’s personal profile) and, if you so wish, your page can also “like” another business page. Other changes include notifications when someone posts or comments on your page.

Check out Mashable’s view on the changes.

New Accounting & Payroll Service for Small Businesses

A new accounting and payroll service, aimed at sole traders and small businesses, launched its website this month.

www.bepro.com provides low cost, hassle free, accounting, payroll and HR services for small and medium sized businesses – enabling them to save time and money on their bookkeeping and accounting requirements.

The service is simplicity itself. Each month, you just fill a Bepro envelope with your sales invoices, receipts and bank statements and return the envelope to Bepro. Bepro do all the bookkeeping, payroll and VAT, then produce a set of monthly accounts and return it to you. The service involves no spreadsheets, no software and no fuss – saving time and money – not to mention frustration.

In terms of cost, as a guide, a sole trader could expect to pay £35 + VAT for a monthly accounting package and a limited company £65 + VAT per month. In fact Bepro guarantee that they will save you money on your current accounting and payroll service.

Business owners and sole traders can request a quote at www.bepro.com

How slow is your broadband?

Kent, Essex and Norfolk all featured at the wrong end of the table when new research into broadband speed was published this weekend by broadband comparison website, Top10.com.

Two streets in Kent featured in the 4 slowest broadband streets in the UK, with Railway Hill in Barham, a few miles south east of Canterbury officially the slowest with an average download speed of 0.13Mb. To put that into perspective it would take the residents of Railway Hill almost 2 days to download a movie online!

Second place went to Tewkesbury Road in Clacton-on-Sea, with an average broadband speed of 0.14Mb. And Norfolk is also home to two of the slowest 20 broadband connected streets in the country, whilst overall, eight of the top 10 slowest streets are in the south, with just two in the north.

The average speed for the UK is 6.21Mb, almost 50 times faster than the download speed available at the slowest streets in Kent and Essex.

Check out the full list at http://top10.com/company/press/britains_slowest_street/

iPhone 4 deal

I decided to treat myself to a new iPhone 4 to use for work and was amazed at the variation of offers, deals and prices across the main networks and retailers.

After a bit of research I plumped for the 16MB version on the One Plan with 3. This gives me 2000 any network minutes and unlimited data for £35 a month, plus £69 for the handset. This seemed to be a great deal – made even sweeter when I used QuidCo to give me a cashback of £106. So all in all I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself – just waiting for my phone (and my cashback) to arrive.

Anybody out there know a better deal?

Reflections & Resolutions

No this isn’t a post comparing screens on the latest mobile or tablet devices – it’s just some musings having spent a few digital free days over the New Year….

My site and blog are still less than 3 months old, but I’ve been pleased and thankful for the generally positive response and the steady stream of visitors I’ve been getting. I’ve had a chance to reflect a little on the purpose of the site and my blog and what the new year holds in store.

Firstly, the primary purpose of the site (and the blog) is to promote my services as a freelance online marketing specialist. The site provides a reference point for potential clients (and partners) and is in many ways my primary marketing tool. What I have found interesting and challenging is that I have found that I have several audiences that I am trying to cater for and communicate with, and this is already giving rise to a somewhat eclectic mix of content.

A key audience is small business owners that need help with all aspects of online marketing – from site development and search marketing through to social media. For this audience I want to provide some useful information, tips and guidance, to help them and also establish my credibility as somebody who can help them.

Another key audience are the digital agencies and other marketing services agencies, large and small, who have the potential need for freelance expertise. Again I want to establish credibility and highlight my skills and experience – as well as showing that I have my finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the digital space. A secondary audience here are the recruitment consultants that many agencies use to help them find the talent and resources they need.

What’s really interesting is that when I look at my ‘social’ networks, primarily LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, I find the lines between these audiences overlapping and blurring – whilst sometimes still retaining very clear distinctions. Thus agency contacts whom I’m linked into may well follow me on twitter – but not feature in my Facebook friends, whilst more personal friends and contacts I’ve made in ‘the real world’ may be part of one or more of these networks – or indeed none. My initial plan was to find or generate interesting content and then decide how to use my networks to share this. However I have found that from time to time my content matter has been influenced by the people I’m meeting and the networks or channels that have been responsive – creating content for the channel rather than the audience.

It’s sometimes easy to worry whether a story about Facebook or Google’s latest beta project in the US will alienate the small business owner who is still grappling with the basics. Conversely there can be a concern that some of the more basic tips and how tos may leave a more advanced audience somewhat cold, and unlikely to return. Perhaps some more editorial planning is called for to address this. I should be able to serve a range of audiences with some tasty titbits.

In the background of course is that other key audience, the search engines. Here I’ve adopted an approach that relevant interesting content is the first priority, whilst trying to be search engine friendly. Again I have been pleasantly surprised, as I seemed to have gained some traction on search terms beyond my own name in a relatively short space of time. For search engine optimisation, content and crawlability are still the key cornerstones upon which the necessary social and linkbuilding activity are built. I believe that I’m building solid foundations – but time will tell.

My biggest reflection is that somewhere along on the line my own character and personality are at best hidden from view, and at worst completely absent. Perhaps concentrating on different audiences, content and search engine friendliness means that I don’t blog, tweet, or write as myself – but more as a business image that I think I want to present.

My favourite tweets (and/or facebook updates) tend to be exchanges between people I already know pretty well – where their personality brings an extra dimension. As a golfer, the other exchanges I’ve enjoyed are those involving Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Graeme MacDowell, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson and other top golfers – again personality shines through. As Samuel L Jackson said: “Personality goes a long way”.

So is the reflection (or should it be the resolution?) – more personality? Well sometimes the most boring people are the ones who are trying too hard to show how interesting they are – and that’s not a gang I want to join. So I’m going to expand my blogging beyond my work and see what happens.

And perhaps I’ll just try to hit the ‘publish’ button just a little quicker – the temptation to read, tweak and improve often means cleaner content – but also renders it sterile.

Let’s see how we get on in 2011….

Do Twitter and Facebook links impact SEO?

Earier this month Bing and Google confirmed in a Search Engine Land interview that links shared on Facebook and Twitter can have an impact on SEO ranking. However it isn’t a simple “more links on Facebook = higher search results” equation.

Bing and Google both have social media-specific search results pages that are influenced by users’ friends and social graph, based on the links they are sharing. And both search engines also offer real-time results of what’s being shared generally on social networks. However, these results are separate from regular search results.

What Google did reveal is that it uses a measure of author authority in its SEO ranking of sites, using Twitter users’ “author quality”. Meanwhile Bing has a similar measurement called “Social Authority”.  Both search engines say that this social or author authority can influence organic search results.

Marketing Times expanded on this, suggesting that Google and Bing might assess how influential a link is on Twitter using factors such as:

  • diversity – the more Twitter accounts sharing a link, the more social authority
  • timing – breaking news vs. links with greater longevity
  • context and content – maybe using the full tweet as a replacement for anchor text
  • engagement level – the number of clicks, retweets, shares, etc

So, if we consider all these points together, then a highly influential Twitter user (who shares a variety of tweets, which are retweeted, commented on, or shared) can potentially build authority and the links they share could enjoy an SEO boost.

It will be interesting to see if anybody can now bring forward a case study to demonstrate this effect.

Links shared on Facebook could be treated similarly, However, the search engines say that they don’t have access to personal information on Facebook walls, so they cannot calculate authority in the same fashion.

Lord Sugar most trusted by SMEs for Business Advice

Small business owners have named Lord Alan Sugar, star of the hit BBC show, The Apprentice, as the UK’s most trusted straight talker, in a recent T-Mobile survey.

2,000 small business owners were asked to choose their top three most trusted business personalities for straight talking business advice. Lord Sugar was chosen by 42% of respondents, followed by Richard Branson and Peter Jones from Dragon’s Den.

Martin Lyne, Director of SME Marketing at T-Mobile said “Lord Alan Sugar’s popularity shows that most business owners just want people to get to the point. They don’t have time to waste listening to waffle or jargon.”

Lord Sugar will choose one of Stella English and Chris Bates to join him when the final of The Apprentice is shown this coming Sunday, 19th December.

Preview of Motorola Tablet & Vector Based Google Maps

Preview of Motorola Tablet & Vector Based Google Maps:

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2010/12/06/motorola-android-tablet-prototype-makes-a-cameo-at-d-dive-into/