Android Marshmallow: Key Features

Google has recently released Android Marshmallow, which comes up with certain key features aimed at increasing overall user experience of a user. Google had announced 6 key features that are specifically aimed to enhance UX of an android user in the Google I/O on May 28, 2015. The key features announced in the I/O was as follow:

1. Android Pay
In the line of Apple pay and Samsung Pay, Android Pay aims to enter into the mobile payment ecosystem. Android Pay uses a device’s NFC connectivity to enable tap to pay services. User need to only unlock the phone, keep it near an NFC terminal and payment will get completed without opening any app. Android Pay will work with all major card and carriers and also work with all major commercial establishments.

 

Android Pay support t in Android Marshmallow

2. Privacy (App permissions)

In line of permission options in iOS apps, an app designed for Android M will ask for app permission as and when these permissions will be used by the app. Earlier app used to ask for all app permissions together during installation time. At the same time, users can navigate to setting section to check the list of permissions that app uses and revoke or provide for a permission.

Improved privacy feature in Android marshmallow

3. Improved Web Experience (Chrome Custom Tab)

Android M providers a new feature named “Chrome Custom Tab” which aims at providing way to harness chrome’s capabilities while keeping look and feel of native experience. Chrome Custom Tab will provide a way to open customized Chrome window on top of the active app, instead of launching the Chrome app separately. This will provide intuitive user experience while a user navigates between app and web.

Chrome Custom Tab support in Marshmallow

4. Simplified Security with Native Fingerprint Support
Android M will provide native fingerprint support on devices running on Android Marshmallow in a uniform way. The fingerprint securely unlocks the phone apart from authenticating a user while he signs in and checks out in Android Pay, Play Store and other apps such as e-commerce apps.

Native Fingerprint Support in Android Marshmallow

5. App links
Android M simplifies web redirection in that a user clicking on a web link in an external app will be automatically redirected to appropriate app corresponding to the web link. Earlier android used to ask a user if he wanted to open the web link in a web browser or the app supporting the web link. For example, earlier a user clicking a YouTube (Facebook or Twitter) link in some other app was asked if he wanted to open the youtube link in YouTube or in Chrome. Now android will automatically open up YouTube link instead of asking a user to choose between YouTube app and Chrome Browser.

Improved app link support in Android Marshmallow

6. Smarter Batteries

Android M uses Doze feature to increase battery performance wherein Doze automatically puts an android device into sleep state. Doze uses motion sensors to find the duration in which device is not active and based on this information, Doze reduces the background processes so as to reduce battery drains.

Further, App Standby feature in Android M reduces battery drain from seldom-used apps limiting impact of these apps on battery life leading increased charge in a device. Lastly USB type C support is Android M will help in quickly transfer power and data all through same cable. This will provide fast charging to a user giving hours of power in few minutes.

Apart from these features, Android M provides following features, which were not discussed in Google I/O:

1. Auto Backup and Restore for Apps

Autoback up and restore for apps was one of most interesting feature that was not discussed Google’s I/O keynote speech. This feature has been missing in Android for years and with Android 6.0, users will be able to automatically back up their apps and app settings (with a file size limit of 25 MB or less per app) to Google Drive. The uploaded backup data won’t count against the user’s Google Drive storage quota. These backups happen no more than once a day and run only when the device is idle and is connected to a working Wi-Fi connection to avoid unwanted data charges and battery drain on your device.

2. New app drawer

App drawer is one of the most immediately obvious visual changes in Android M. The new app drawer vertically scrolls instead of horizontally, and is held against a white background. Further, at top of the menu four most recently used apps are also put up to provide ease to a user.

New app drawer in Android Marshmallow

3. Now on Tap (Contextual Assistance)

This feature provides contextual assistance to a user without the user leaving the app he is presently in. Now on tap spreads the concept of Google Now to entire OS so that a user can use this feature on any screen regardless of what he is doing.  User needs to touch and hold home button and Now on Tap will provide relevant contents after carefully analyzing user’s context.

 
Thus, if a user getting an SMS from a friend for going to a XYZ restaurant for dinner then Google’s Now on Tap will automatically recognise context of the text in the SMS (XYZ restaurant) after long press on the home button and thus will show results to the users based on user’s context (in this case XYZ restaurant) and thus will show useful results related to XYZ restaurant as shown below:
Now on Tap in Android Marshmallow

4. RAM Manager

Android M introduces a new RAM manager in Android M with memory section now located at front and centre in setting menu. This is aimed at providing more accurate and comprehensible information regarding the maximum and average RAM usage of apps. Based on this information, user will be able to optimize their app usage and remove apps which needs to be removed in order to increase device performance and battery life.

New RAM Manager in Android Marshmallow

5. Expendable Storage
                                                                                               

Expendable Storage is Google’s new storage feature which takes an external storage source (such as an SD card or USB drive) and formats it like an internal storage space. This allows for using any external storage as encrypted extended storage for apps and games.


6. Direct Share Feature

Android M makes sharing intuitive and quick for users wherein developers will be able to specify sharing targets deeper inside their apps. Thus, a user will be able to directly share content to a specific friend or community in another social network. Thus, for an example an app will be able to directly share a content to an exact contact in a chatting app in a single step. Presently it used to take 2 steps to share content.

Direct Share Feature in Android Marshmallow
Apart from these main features, some of the other new features in Android M include support for improved cut/copy/paste implementation, bluetooth stylus support, improved bluetooth low energy scanning for nearby beacons and accessories, option to remove status bar icons, rotating home screen options etc.

Google declining CPC: Is mobile to be blamed for this?


Google posted its first quarter earning for 2015 on April 23, 2015 reporting $17.3 Billion revenue and EPS of $6.57.  Google missed market’s earning expectation of $17.5 Billion by a whisper and market gave Google thumps up for 12% YoY increase in revenue and the reported decrease in its Capital expenditure.
Pricing pressure on online ads led to 7% YoY decrease in Cost Per Click, however Google reported 13% YoY increase in aggregate paid clicks. The increase in aggregate paid clicks could offset the decline in cost per click and based on increased paid clicks Google could increase its YoY advertising revenue despite making less money per ad.  Finally Google ended up with $65.43 Billion cash and cash equivalents in Q1, 2015.
Some of the major highlights of Google’s Q1 earning can be seen as follow:
  • Revenue – Google’s Q1, 2015 revenue increased to $17.3 Billion, which is 12% up from $15.4 Billion revenue in first quarter of 2014.
  • Paid Clicks – increased by 13% YoY but decreased by 1% with respect to the previous quarter. This includes 12% YoY decline paid clicks from Networks and 25% increase in paid clicks due to Google sites
  • Cost Per Clicks – has seen decline for last 11 quarters and this has come up as big area of concern for Google. CPC saw 7% YoY decline.
  • Traffic Acquisition Cost – Traffic acquisition cost as a percentage of advertising revenue got down to 21.6% in Q1, 2015 to 23.1% in Q1, 2014.

 

Google’s Historical Revenue Data
Google gets most of its revenue through Advertising with 2 main components, namely advertising revenue from paid clicks on Google websites and advertising revenue on paid clicks on Google Network Members’ websites, contributing 89.5% of its total revenue in 2014.
 
Paid Click vers Cost Per Click mismatch in Google
Google has been grappling with Pricing vers Supply trend mismatch since 2011 wherein volume of paid search has been rising and cost for each click has been decreasing. This can also be seen in the figure as below:
Declining Cost Per Click
 
 
The falling CPC has led to  being interpreted as Google beginning to lag in advertising economy and thus started being left behind by players like Facebook and Twitter. But, can it always be said that falling CPC is the true measure of advertising effectiveness of a firm? We will discuss in detail about the trends in Google’s CPC and its advertising revenue in following section:
1. Shift to mobile
Google has around 90% market share in mobile search and thus dominates the mobile search engine market due to exceptional adoption of  Android OS by smartphone users. Android has 80% OS wise market share in smartphone landscape and google is expected to continue its leadership position in this area. Continuing decline in CPC has been attributed to massive shift to mobile and difficulties in monetising search on mobiles. Further, ads on mobile websites brings in smaller revenue than similar ads on desktop. But this trend may reverse due to innovations like Enhanced campaign.

2. Growth of advertising on you tube

As per Google CFO Pichette, rapid growth of advertising on youtube rather than difficulty in monetisation mobile search is the main reason for decline in CPC. Further youtube ad monetisation is influenced by following factors:
a. Rapid growth of youtube viewership – Youtube has over 1 Billion MAU and youtube has grown very rapid in world more especially in less developed countries. Further, ad rates are less in less developed countries than ad rates in developed countries and this has led to overall decline in CPC.
b.  Growth of True View ads on Youtube – Number of advertisers on youtube has grown substantially by 45% YoY and all the top 100 largest advertising brand on Youtube run True View ads.  True View ads charge advertisers only when an ad is watched for 30 seconds or more by a user and this leads to lower monetisation from True View ads than monetisation from Google.com. This has also led to decline in CPC for Google.

 

3. Multi platform enhanced campaign – Google introduced multi platform Enhanced Campaigns so as to make cross device paid search campaigns easier for advertisers to manage.  Multi platform enhanced campaign tie mobile and desktop bids together and thus ads on tablet can not be separately bid by an advertiser. Further, it was also presumed that CPC price for tablets will be pulled up to desktop levels as there will be same bid for both desktop and tablets. Most AdWords campaigns were converted to Enhanced by the end of July last year.
4. Realignment of advertising revenue in favour of mobile devices
Since large number of web traffic (in range of 50%) has started coming from mobile devices, advertisers have started realigning their ad budgets in favour of mobile devices.  Further, advertisers with less spending on mobile advertisement started putting more money for mobile advertisement and this might have led to decrease in desktop revenue as some money have got diverted from desktop and have been shifted towards mobile. Lack of price discovery arising due to shift in spending pattern of advertisers might have skewed the overall CPC but in longer run CPC for mobile devices and desktop may align to their respective prices.
5. Role of emerging markets
Increased share of emerging market has also led to overall decrease in CPCs as increased number of clicks from emerging market brought overall CPC down.  Most of Google growth is coming outside USA and European market which is a low priced market. Thus although, Google is able to add search volume but this addition is coming at a cheaper rate bringing overall CPC rate down.

6. Increasing CPC but decreasing paid clicks on Google Network Member’s site – For the last 2 quarters, CPC on Google network member’s properties has been increasing YoY and paid clicks on these properties have been decreasing YoY. The increase in CPC might be due to the fact that network ads might have been historically sold at lower price than Google’s site and this increase might be due to catching up by network’s ad CPC.

7.Decreasing CPC but increased paid clicks on Google Site –  But, Google web sites sold more
ads at a decreasing price a scan be seen below:
But as a whole, it can be seen below that Google earns more money form its own sites than network sites as can be seen below:

8. Increased contribution of advertising in Google’s revenue:

Google earned 59 Billion USD revenue through advertising which constituted 89.5% of its revenue. This shows Google’s dependence of advertising for its revenue and any decreasing trend, either in price or volume can have large impact on Google’s competitiveness.

 

Revenues (in millions) by revenue source for the periods as presented:
 
Year ended December 31
2012
2013
2014
Advertising Revenue
Google Websites
 31,221
 37,422
 45,085
Google Network Member’s websites
 12,465
 13,125
 13,971
Total Advertising Revenue
 43,686
 50,547
 59,056
Other Revenue
 2,353
 4,972
 6,945
Total Revenue
 46,039
 55,519
 66,001
Percentage of revenues by source as a percentage of total revenues for periods presented:
Year ended December 31
2012
2013
2014
Advertising Revenue
Google Websites
67.8%
67.4%
68.3%
Google Network Member’s websites
27.1%
23.6%
21.2%
Total Advertising Revenue
94.9%
91.0%
89.5%
Other Revenue
5.1%
9.0%
10.5%
Total Revenue
100%
100%
100%

Thus, it is difficult to say if average CPC is cause of worry for Google if overall click volume and overall revenue is increases.  and overall revenue is increasing. If Google is able to leverage its presence in desktop, search, youtube, chrome, android etc in a better way and is able to deliver well targeted quality ads for advertiser then falling CPC in short run should not be cause of worry for advertisers as there might be many exogenous factors that may be leading to decrease in overall CPC.
Note:
Google’s revenues from Google Network Members’ websites include revenues generated primarily through advertising programs including AdSense for search, AdSense for content, AdExchange, AdMob, and DoubleClick Bid Manager.
Paid clicks on Google websites include clicks related to ads served on Google owned and operated properties across different geographies and devices, including search, YouTube engagement ads like TrueView, and other owned and operated properties including Maps and Finance. 


Soft Bank investment in Wandoujia hottens up Chinese App Store Market Place

Wandoujia, China’s one of the largest android app distribution platform, with a massive funding of $120 million from a consortium of investor including Soft Bank, GoldMan Sachs, DCM and Innovation Work Development Fund (IWDF) in a series B funding in January 2014 has opportunity to come as a serious threat in the fierce battle of China’s increasing lucrative android app eco system. Earlier Wandoujia had received $8 Million Series A funding from a consortium led by DCM and IWDF in 2011.

Softbank is Japanese mobile telecom company which has been huge investments in Chinese companies such as 32% stake in China’s biggest Internet mall, Alibaba and $600 million funding in China’s taxi based app Kuaidi Dache.  IWDF is U.S. based investment arm of Chuangxin, China’s renowned early stage venture firm.
Wandoujia is China’s search engine for mobile entertainment with more than 2.2 million free videos, 1.7 million novels, 1.5 million high quality android apps and games, wallpapers and themes. Wandoujia claims to be having 350 million total installation with 800000 new installations each day.  This makes Wandoujia  one of the leading Android app distribution channel in China.  Wandoujia has partenered with various foreign developers like Flipboard, Evernote Sketch, Evernote Food, Path, Pocket, and Line to promote their apps in China. F Wandoujia publishes Mobile Search Index, which helps in discovering and thus downloading android apps in China. Further, Wandoujia has a PC-to-Android syncing tool with the name Snap Pea for global audience. Wandoujia says that it is first mobile gate way in China integrating contents across multiple verticals like apps, games, videos, music etc.
In my previous blog Chinese Android App Store Market, I have discussed Chinese mobile market and Chinese Android app store landscape in detail.  Softbank investment in Wandoujia has made Chinese app store market more interesting with tough competition between major app stores with each getting huge support from one or other big player in the Chinese Internet market. 
Since it is very difficult to rank Chinese app stores due to difference in metrics used by different Android app stores, we have analysed major Chinese app store players in no particular order:

Sl No
App Store
Major Feature
1
Baidu Mobile Assistant
·     Recently purchased rival 91 mobile in $1.9 Billion
·     Synergy with Baidu’s search engine – which is China’s largest search engine
·     Baidu and 91 mobile run separately
2
Wandoujia
·     350 million times installed
·     800,000 new installations each day
·     Received $120 Million funding from Soft Bank
·     Available as Android mobile app and as a web app
·     Search engine for mobile entertainment with search engine for online videos and eBooks
·     PC to Android sync app named Wandoujia (Chinese version) and SnapPea(Global version)
3
Tencent App gem
·     Uses WeChat to give boost to its app store
·     Total cumulative download of 64 million apps
·     400% increase in daily active users and daily downloads on App Gem in past six months
4
360 Mobile Assistant
·     Owned by China’s second biggest search engine Qihoo
·     Qihoo’s app store has “over 400 million users
·     Assumed to have biggest android app market share
5
91 Mobile Assistant
·     Owned by Baidu along with Hi Market
·     Reduced distribution fee for mobile game developers from 10 % to five %

Although Chinese app stores do not follow similar metrics to provide data and there have always been reliability issues in these data, Newzoo has released market share of various app stores in China as shown below:

This makes Baidu as having highest market share with total market share of 37% market share (Baidu Mobile Assistant – 20%, HiMarket – 9% and 91 Mobile Assistant – 8%) followed by 24% market share of Tencent’s my app.