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New Research Proves: “Win the morning, you win the day”
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7 Headlines That Will Disrupt Mobile in 2020

By Greg Wester, CMO

 Our Predictions on 2020’s Big Newsmakers

 It’s a new decade in mobile. And things can change a lot in 10 years. Consider that the best selling phone in 2010 was the iPhone 4, Samsung released its first Galaxy phone, and “App” was chosen as the word of the year by the American Dialect Society.

What might 2020 have in store? We decided to look into our New Lens and make a few predictions on what some of the major headlines in mobile will be this year.

Research Reveals That People are App-Nostic 60% of the Time

Maybe the 2020 Word of the year will be “App”-Nostic? The trend of unlocking your phone without an app in mind will continue to grow.

LG introduces Discovery Phone – catered to the Media Enthusiast

And with that growing trend, an OEM will launch a phone primarily designed to recommend and consume streaming video, music, news, and other media.

Mobile Posse’s MetroZONE Repeats as the Stickiest App at Unlock

Excuse us for being self-serving. If Verto Analytics’ repeats its report “The Mobile Unlock Journey”  on what captures people’s attention right at unlock, we expect MetroZONE to be among the leaders again.

Stanford Researchers Show That Facebook Is Just Everyone’s Bad Habit

Why do people use Facebook despite concerns of “Fake News” and privacy? Taking a page out of the popular book, “The Power of Habit”, researchers quantify Facebook’s use driven largely because it’s easy and “just there”.

Want Better Viewing Suggestions? Fios To Incorporate Your Mobile Habits

Choice overload has made smart discovery imperative for media winners. Someone with the ability to combine mobile usage with streaming will do so – providing recommendations on what to watch based on the news and stories you view on your phone.

New Android Widgets Now Designed To Compete With Siri Suggestions

Android, in an effort to compete with Siri’s increasingly powerful, and proactive “Suggestions”, will upgrade their current widgets to integrate with other device utilities and intelligently recommend to the user things they might want to do next – based on their schedule, history, location, and more.

Apple Launches iDiscovery; Primed to be the King of Mobile Media

 And speaking of Apple, we don’t expect them to sit on their hands in 2020. Look for them to create a whole ecosystem around discovery – putting their Apple News and AppleTV products front and center for their users. In a world overloaded with media choices – the winners will be those that simplify those choices in the most user-friendly way.  You can already control your Apple TV from your iPhone’s control center, look for deeper integrations around cross-device recommendations and cross-device control.

How about you? Any bold predictions for what’s heading our way in 2020? Contact Us with your headlines!

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3 Things Netflix Can Teach Us About Smartphone Discovery

By Kevin Grant, SVP Sales

Netflix initially launched with less than 1000 titles, leading with the “not quite blockbusters” Boogie Nights and LA Confidential. Yet these first steps –taking the friction out of video discovery– literally put Blockbuster out of business. Carriers and OEMs should learn from this, and realize that it’s the software on their devices (not the breadth of content) that holds the ultimate path to satisfying subscribers and getting them to spend more time on their services.

Today, Netflix continues to win the streaming wars even though it doesn’t have licenses to all or “the best” content. True, their Originals (like House of Cards and Stranger Things) are compelling, but behind this growing investment remains a keen focus on discovery.  In particular, Netflix continues to be a leader in the critical Discovery aspects of UI/UX and providing proactive recommendations. This focus has worked so well that Netflix says that 80% of shows watched are driven by its recommendations, as opposed to search results.

In today’s world, in which media choices abound, the power of enhanced UI/UX, and proactive recommendations can mean everything. And there are massive opportunities to improve both on today’s smartphones. Better smartphone content discovery will be a game changer, and Netflix provides a fabulous canvas for understanding key lessons. Here are three that smartphone innovators can take from Netflix to build new content discovery experiences:

Lesson 1: “Brands are being built by companies that facilitate discovery without hindering continuity.” 

Once Netflix was done putting the video store out of business, it proceeded to change our in-home TV consumption altogether by following a simple logic equation – Discovery GT continuity. Or even simpler, giving top priority to people easily finding the titles they’ll enjoy. This is not to say that they ignore continuity – for sure, it only takes a tap or two to continue what you were last watching. But open Netflix and you will see groups of titles – like what’s trending, recommended for you, and, yes, continue watching. So no matter what you are always getting a glimpse of what you might watch next.

Turn on your cable box (at least the old versions) and you’ll routinely be delivered the last channel watched. Sure there’s “easy” access to a guide you can scroll through, but cable box guides are as tedious as trolling video store shelves trying to find the right title amongst a sea of boxes. You may chuckle at this, but the current smartphone O/S is largely the same – wake it up and it merely presents the app we used last. There’s a good chance what you used last isn’t what you now want and it’s definitely not going to have you salivating for what might come next.

For smartphone innovators like OEMs and wireless carriers this highlights a massive opportunity. Netflix has chosen to deprioritize this outdated logic of giving people what they watched last. Instead, they are using the same logic that movies were using when they played trailers before your feature film – just in a much more snackable format. So while some might be thinking that putting snackable content on the smartphone in the same way would be disruptive, Netflix literally built itself into a media giant by making this “disruption” part of its genius.

Lesson 2: “People always appreciate a small snack before a good meal… That’s the crux of discovery.” 

 “Courtesy of the chef….  Here’s an amuse bouche.” Who doesn’t like hearing that on date night at a nice restaurant? A nice, free morsel personally selected by the chef for you to try before digging in. We don’t always like it, but we’ll always try it. Netflix does this with video – showing people what’s out there. A new show comes out and it will give you the option to watch a trailer (or even auto-play it) the next time you open up the service.

Consider, again, the difference between Netflix and the cable box. If I’m browsing the Netflix interface and I stop on a title, in the background the trailer for that selection will start auto-playing adding an audio accompaniment to your selection process. Meanwhile, if I’m on Fios and browsing for something On Demand, the background noise is usually what I had on TV or an annoying advertisement that has nothing to do with what I’m looking at. In other words, the audio is trying to DRAW ME AWAY from making a selection.

This idea of showing what’s out there, even a glimpse, is also true in mobile. How often do you see a headline or story and think “I need to get back to that later”? Smartphones should have the ability for us to quickly add this to a read “queue” so when we are ready to consume our meal, it’s there for us. A little mobile “amuse bouche” (or snackable content) can go a long way to building longer lasting customer relationships.

 Lesson 3: “Companies that are satisfied with giving people what they had last are, literally, living in the past and destined to fail.”

Netflix’s tagline of “See What’s Next” is a finger on the nose snub at the competition that it’s left in the dust. While TV kept you watching the last channel you were on and Hollywood was focused on the current blockbuster, Netflix forward-thinking “See What’s Next” mentality allowed their subscription and recommendation based model to thrive. Netflix disrupted and squashed industries because they lived this tagline to the fullest.

Smartphones have become our connector to the news, stories, people, inspirations, and everything else that is in our life blood. It’s time for those that make the logic and interfaces to be more forward-thinking then simply serving us the last app. It’s clear that customers are gravitating towards solutions that have better and easier to use interfaces to aid in media choices. Without evolving to include smarter discovery that provides recommendations and makes it easier to find what we like, carriers and OEMs risk going the way of Blockbuster.






Readers feedback graphic
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Apple News “Exclusive” Redux: Reader Feedback

By Greg Wester, CMO

Last week, we posted an “Exclusive” of our sneak peek of the Apple News roadmap. For those that read it, you by now know that we didn’t really get an exclusive and were just touting the wares of Device-Centric Discovery (DCD) solutions…  but that didn’t stop you from sending in your feedback and/or overall thoughts.

Big thanks to all the people that chimed in. Here are our responses to the most thoughtful feedback below:

Q1. Interesting piece. Apple and Google certainly make a mint in app installs. Wouldn’t building solutions that compete with those apps be a threat to that revenue?

Great thought. To your point, I certainly do wonder how the preinstallation of Apple News has impacted installs of news and information apps. While we can only pretend to have the inside insight on what Apple or Google does, we do know that both these companies have thrived by keeping a pulse on what’s next. The reality is that people don’t get jazzed by having to install yet another app on their already crowded phones. And one competitive reality is clear, if it’s not Google or Apple that moves first, then someone else will certainly be taking that lead. The obvious contender would be large OEMs or U.S. carriers with the influence to impact what software gets installed on Android devices.

Q2. No way Apple does this. People just want control of their phones. No one wants this nonsense.

Well, if I know that “not every product is for everyone”, then Apple certainly knows that. The current Apple News product is catered to those who love finding content on their phone. For those that don’t want much of it, there are  ways to “dial it down”. But what isn’t going to change is the increasing amount of content options available in a digital world – which is already overwhelming. Consumers may differ in how they consume content, but reducing choice overload is something that consumers will always embrace, and that’s the crux of DCD.

Q3. I work in app design and we test things all the time. We’ve never looked at “different” interfaces like the way you describe the Discovery Agent – mainly because my firm’s app can’t control what happens on unlock. But this seems like it would be a little annoying to users?

Well . . . maybe ask yourself this question. . . Netflix gives a very different experience than your cable box.  Would you consider that annoying? As a UI expert, I’m sure you can agree that today’s smartphone UI/UX is dated. If you open your phone today, you’ll get your home screen or the last app you are in – which isn’t exactly helpful for the user who is looking to “discover” something new. A smart discovery agent, like all DCD solutions, would be designed to REDUCE friction for the user.  It’s what today’s mobile users find really annoying, and the challenge that Netflix’ UI/UX has grabbed by the horns.

Q4. While some of these features sound great – I can’t help but think “So What” to your Apple News piece. How much is there for them to gain?

We attempted to quantify the mobile ad opportunity of improving the smartphone experience in 2017, and determined that there was a multi-billion opportunity in what we called “First Dibs”. And the was JUST FROM ADVERTISING! But overall, with the world trending towards “Appnostic” behavior (meaning people unlocking their phones with no app in mind), media and service provider winners will emerge by taking out the friction involved in users finding what they need, want, or desire from their mobile phone. And even aside from the monetary opportunity, DCD will become the differentiator in billions of dollars of brand equity created by interfaces that make consumers’ lives easier.

Thanks for the great response to our last blog. If you have other questions, don’t be shy. Hit us up any time right here!

New Research Proves: “Win the morning, you win the day”
Firstly Blog

New Research Proves: “Win the morning, you win the day”

By Greg Wester CMO

We all have our morning routines. I’m guessing mine is quite different from yours. However, new research from Phoenix Marketing International shows our morning routines include our smartphones is some rather similar ways.  And these similarities create big opportunities for wireless carriers to use Device Centric Content (DCD) to better serve their subscribers and build loyalty and brand.Read more

mobile phone promoting Apple special event
Firstly Blog

Exclusive Sneak Peak From Apple Event: Apple News Roadmap

By Greg Wester, CMO

As a member of the tech blog-o-sphere, I was able to snag an invite to Apple’s December 2nd special press event to honor the Best Apps and Games of the year.

So there I was, in a surprisingly dark and hushed environment tucked in between honorees like the Spectre Camera and Sky: Children of Light appmakers, when someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I’d like to see a sneak preview of what’s to come with Apple News. I jumped at the chance and… WOW-EE! All I can say is . . . “We told you!”Read more

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Device-Centric Discovery: Just The Faq Part 4: How Are Carriers Using DCD?

By Kevin McGuire, SVP Product

You may have heard us say that we “make the smartphone smarter”. That’s because content discovery on smartphones is stunted, and the way to fix it is to change how the device works. Device-centric discovery (DCD) solutions do just that. DCD solutions, like our Firstly Mobile Platform are designed to help users find and enjoy content without opening any apps.

This four-part blog series is designed to help you understand what DCD is, why it matters, why consumers love it, and what it means for the wireless industry.

 In our first part, we covered the basics – defining DCD, giving examples of existing DCD solutions, and revealing the market leaders.

 In our second part, we discussed why DCD is a growing trend.

 In our third part, we explained how consumers get DCD and how it has impacted mobile behavior.

 In our fourth and final part, we will discuss DCD from the carrier angle – describing the many ways that DCD can be used to support key strategic goals, and aspirations, of top carriers.


In part 3 of this blog series, we explained how subscribers have already embraced the industry-changing trend of DCD. For users, DCD brings a range of device or O/S enhancements that make it easier to find news/sports/entertainment/games without having to wade through multiple apps. But carriers also can use DCD to support key business goals:

  • Boost ARPU and Revenue – For carriers looking to add to their bottom line, DCD can be a turnkey revenue model. Carriers turn to DCD providers to handle the overall management, content sourcing, and ad monetization, a carrier in turn receives incremental revenue from a share of the mobile ad revenue generated by the DCD provider. These incremental revenues come with no OPEX or capital investment, meaning that DCD’s turnkey revenues are pure profit, representing as much bottom line impact as the equivalent of an incremental $2 ARPU per month.
  • Create Inventory for Carrier’s Ad Service – For carriers looking to build and monetize mobile ad inventory, DCD provides significant opportunity. Carrier’s can work with the DCD provider to integrate their own ad tags, allowing the carriers to build a strong monthly mobile ad revenue stream.
  • Grow Brand Loyalty – Frictionless technology has paved the way for subscribers to have low-touch access to the things they want, need, and desire. Consider how easy it has become to hail a “cab” on Uber, shop on Amazon, order food through Grubhub, or find a date on Tinder. Carriers can bring that same simplicity of access to content through DCD – giving consumers one-touch access on unlock, with a swipe, or a tap on a new browser. With this level of engagement, they can use DCD to promote their own campaigns and services to subscribers, helping to put their brand front and center to customers. We’ll go further in depth later in specifically how they can do this with their 5G rollouts
  • Leverage Content Investment – Many carriers are looking for a better ROI on large sums invested in media assets. DCD provides them what they previously lacked to get those assets in front of subscribers – a discovery engine. No matter how great any content is, the value of it is still dependent on getting eyeballs. The gains in viewership attributable to DCD was recently quantified by the publisher UPI. After their content was sourced as the news provider in one DCD solution, they witnessed massive gains in reach and engagement:
    • Double the mobile CPMs
    • 86% increase in click-through rate
    • 30 second increase in average time spent
    • 26% decrease in bounce rate
  • Increase Subscriber Interest In Streaming Media Investments – Carriers have been investing heavily in building streaming media and cable portfolios that subscribers want. DCD solutions can act as a “guide” or “concierge” to their streaming media offerings by providing recommendations, peer reviews, and other suggestions throughout the day to the user.


In some cases, DCD solutions like Apple News and Samsung Bixby are pre-packed on OEM’s phones. However, in other cases, carriers form a partnership with a DCD provider to distribute the solution on carrier phones. In these cases, there are usually four key aspects of provisioning the solution that the DCD provider will help the carrier with:

  1. Day-to-Day Management: Managing the overall business and technology
  2. Media Content Sourcing: The sources and types of content used
  3. Ad Operations: Ad monetization and how it is handled
  4. Integration of Carrier Owned Content: Inclusion of carrier-owned content and brand campaigns into the solution


In 2017, we quantified the opportunity of appearing “first” for users on smartphones as a multi-billion dollar opportunity for carriers. Our First Dibs research included quantifying how often they open their phones without an app in mind (later named the “Appnostic” trend discussed in parts 2 and 3 of this series), and how consumers preferred solutions that provided first screen engagement. The value of the opportunity was established to be up to 5% of all mobile advertising revenue, placing it third behind Google and Facebook.

Since then, however, different DCD solutions have emerged, putting new subscriber content experiences throughout the phone and not just on the first screen. The success of these solutions prove that our initial quantification, while already lofty, is just the tip of the iceberg. The overall impact of DCD goes well beyond our First Dibs research when you consider how it allows carriers to maximize ROI on their streaming video, cross-promotions, and other content investments. Consider that, it’s easy to imagine leading DCD innovators to be considered among the biggest brand names in mobile media.


Along with 5G rollouts, new services will become available where speed to market and adoption rate will be critical. Carriers can use DCD solutions to create a marketing engine to smartly promote their 5G network and services. In the pre-5G world, people already own smartphones that supply them with a myriad of choices. With the faster loading and faster streaming world of 5G coming, consumers are undoubtedly going to be faced with the problem of “choice overload” – which means the winners are going to be determined by who can get their content in front of subscriber’s eyes first. That’s where DCD can help:

  • Promote 5G Services: While 4G users who live in areas that offer 5G service are getting their news or social updates, DCD can offer integrate content that raises awareness and interest in upcoming 5G services (which boosts adoption and loyalty). they can also be shown messages relating to services available to them, including 5G promotions.
  • Provide Fast Discovery of New 5G Innovations: Early adopters of 5G devices will crave new experiences promised. With DCD, these 5G users can unlock their phones and access 5G-specific experiences, including VR- or AR-enabled content, apps and services available only on (or enhanced by) 5G.
  • Create a 5G Promotional Strategy: Carriers can build campaigns for users with 5G-capable phones who don’t live in areas with 5G service or 4G users who will soon have access to a 5G network by naturally integrating them into their current content experiences.


Device-Centric Discovery is fundamentally changing how people use phones. DCD leaders have built solutions already being embraced by subscribers everywhere, but there is still a large opportunity available to carriers to innovate DCD. Carriers have a wealth of 2020 goals they are looking to accomplish and DCD can be central to all of them, while giving the added bonus of pleasing their subscribers. It’s time for carriers to partner with a DCD provider and bring this mission critical technology to their phones in 2020.



Firstly Blog

Device-Centric Discovery: Just the FAQ Part 3: How Are Consumers Using DCD?

By Kevin McGuire, SVP Product

You may have heard us say that we “make the smartphone smarter”. That’s because content discovery on smartphones is stunted and the way to fix it is to change how the device works. Device-centric discovery (DCD) solutions do just that. DCD solutions, like our Firstly Mobile Platform are designed to help users find and enjoy content without opening any apps.

 This four-part blog series is designed to help you understand what DCD is, why it matters, why consumers love it, and what it means for the wireless industry.

Read more

Firstly Blog

Device-Centric Discovery: Just the FAQ

By Kevin McGuire, SVP Product


You may have heard us say that we “make the smartphone smarter”. That’s because content discovery on smartphones is stunted and the way to fix it is to change how the device works. Device-centric discovery (DCD) solutions, like our Firstly Mobile Platform, does just that. But we are hardly the only DCD solution in market.

Read more

Blue and yellow graphic. What is DCD?
Firstly Blog

Device-Centric Discovery: Just the FAQ

By Kevin McGuire, SVP Product


 You may have heard us say that we “make the smartphone smarter”. That’s because content discovery on smartphones is stunted and the way to fix it is to change how the device works. Device-centric discovery (DCD) solutions, like our Firstly Mobile Platform, does just that. But we are hardly the only DCD solution in market.

This four-part blog series is designed to help you understand what DCD is, why it matters, why consumers love it, and what it means for the wireless industry.

Read more

A Wake Up Call For Mobile Researchers
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A Wake Up Call For Mobile Researchers

By Greg Wester, CMO (And Former Research Analyst)

Once upon a time, I led a team of consumer interactive tech analysts at The Yankee Group. I had a simple message for them: “Our research should be geared towards the SMARTEST of our potential clients.” Twenty years later – I want to send the same message. This time, however, it’s for the mobile research industry: Forrester, IDC, Nielsen, Gartner, NPD, Ovum, Comscore, Parks Associates. Basically any firm researching consumer mobile usage – I’m talking to YOU.

Read more