New smartphone buyers are overwhelmingly choosing Android phones in comparison to iPhones and BlackBerrys, new data from Nielsen reveals.

Below you can see Nielsen’s subscriber share numbers. On the left are the total subscriber share numbers. On the right is the subscriber share numbers for the three months ended in August, which is a better predictor of the future of the market.

As you can see, in the three month period 56% of buyers opted for Android, versus just 28% for Apple. Rough for Apple, but if there’s a positive in there, it’s that Apple’s subscriber share is holding steady while Android eats up BlackBerry share and share from “other”.

But, with the iPhone hitting Verizon, we thought Apple would be in better shape in the U.S. Maybe once the iPhone 5 arrives, we’ll see a tilt? Or, maybe Android keeps running away with this thing.

chart of the day, operating system share, september 2011

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The Scion brand was among the first “alternative” automotive youth brands in the US.   Highest-ever monthly sales were 19,252 units in August 2006, but Scion may have lost its soul since.  In 2010 (before any earthquake-related shortages), sales averaged 3,800 units a month.  Compete assessed key drivers of Scion sales (shoppers and conversion) to help reveal the drivers of Scion’s off-pace results, and fielded a survey on consumer perceptions of Scion.

Missing the Shopper Recovery

The number of unique Scion shoppers at the brand level has trended down over the past 30 months.  (Unique means shoppers of more than one Scion model are counted only once at the brand level).  Fewer shoppers in 2009 could be related to the recession, which impacted everyone.  Through the first half of 2009, Scion’s Share of Market Interest (SMI) was fairly steady, meaning its shopper volumes tracked with the market.  But as market shopper volume has recovered since then, Scion’s has not: its SMI was near a period low in June 2011.  Keep in mind that vehicle shortages impact sales, not shopping.

Scion More Quirky than Youthful?

To shed light on possible reasons for Scion’s SMI decline, Compete fielded a digital general population survey in June on consumer perceptions of the brand.  Over 60% felt they did not know enough about Scion to have an opinion.  Of the 39% that offered an opinion, “quirky” and “economical” led results.  In a recession, “economical” would seem to help shopping and sales; perhaps “quirky” is overpowering “economical.” “Youthful” was a distant third, potentially leaving Scion with a market hinging on quirky but economical products not quite geared toward younger buyers.

Scion Soul in Context

Kia’s Soul was one of the models that followed in Scion’s footsteps.   It has distinctive styling in the boxy genre and a low base price, and its advertising has argualbly been youth-oriented.  For context, Compete compared shopper volume for Soul against Scion overall.  The volumes are surprisingly similar (meaning that Soul alone has about the same number of shoppers as Scion overall).   The strength of Soul may mean that some would-be Scion shoppers instead shopped Soul, or may have shopped Soul in addition to Scion.

Showdown in the Showroom

Despite similar shopper volumes, Soul monthly sales have averaged 37% higher than Scion’s, and have exceed 10,000 units in each of the past four months; Scion averaged 4,850 in the same period.   So while Scion and Soul each had the same potential for sales, Kia has been more effective at converting Soul shoppers into Soul buyers.  Soul conversion has better Scion’s in all months but one since February 2010.

Scion Redemption

The good news is that Scion today has the potential to sell more vehicles, based on current shopper volumes (or souls).  The bad news is that it has lost shoppers over time in absolute terms and relative to the market, and its ability to convert shoppers into buyers trails potential rivals, like Soul.

Of course there’s more to the story.  Logical next steps Scion can investigate to restore sales include the following.  These same steps can be used by others looking to launch Scion-compatible products to better understand Scion’s trajectory to date:

  • Understand why the market’s shopper growth is not reaching Scion
    • Ad effectiveness: Compare SMI to share of voice: coincident drops in both may simply mean Scion was outspent.
    • Avoiders: Field a shopper avoider study to in-market consumers of Scion rivals that are not shopping Scion and ask why (lack of awareness, lack of familiarity, etc.).
    • Spillover demand: Quantify reverse-cross-shop trends to reveal which rivals’ shoppers are cross-shopping Scion and which are not and how that has changed over time.
  • Understand Scion conversion inhibitors
    • Benchmarking: Compare Scion conversion trends by model against target rivals.
    • Influences: Evaluate conversion relative to core conversion influencers, such as inventory levels, incentives, and other conversion influencers.
    • Rival refinement: Evaluate Scion cross-shop data to help reveal the extent to which Scion’s actual rivals are not target rivals, and the extent to which conversion by target or true rivals is impacting Scion conversion.


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The environment for early stage startup investing is very “challenging” right now because big exits are still rare, but Series A round valuations have grown larger and larger, according to Fred Wilson, one of the best known early stage investors in the world.

On his blog, Wilson highlights the chart below which comes from Mark Suster. It shows the number of exits over $100 million on an annual basis is relatively small. There are 1,000 early stage fundings annually, according to the NVCA, which means just 5%-10% are producing big exits.

“At at time when the average Series A round is now north of $20mm (based on very anecdotal evidence and not at all scientific), this poses challenges for the VC industry,” says Wilson.

Wilson simplifies the math to prove his point, but says assume a fund can get one company to exit at a $250 million valuation. If it invested in 20 companies at an average valuation of $20 million, then it has committed $400 million.

The one big exit isn’t going to provide enough of a return to cover the portfolio, which is how the VC business has traditionally worked.

So, either the VC model needs to evolve, or valuations need to come down.

Annual exits for VC-backed startups worth more than $100 million

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Kiip, the seven month-old mobile ads startup, is finally coming out of stealth today and revealing an entirely new model for in-game advertising, one that offers users value instead of fighting an uphill battle for their attention.

Going beyond the banner and text ads used by industry leaders iAd and AdMob, the team behind Kiip has thought long and hard about the way people actually play games and has come to conclusion that the moments when players experience in-game achievements like upping a level, completing a challenge or accumulating a certain number of points are the most valuable in terms of providing the most user engagement.

Unlike, Kiip doesn’t just show an ad when those moments are achieved. What it does instead is pretty interesting: Kiip has partnered up with big brands like Sephora, popchips,, Sony Dash, Vitamin Water, 1-800-Flowers, Dr. Pepper, GNC, Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s to offer players actual in-game rewards like a voucher for six bags of popchips, a lipstick sample or a complimentary smoothie when they complete gaming milestones.

“Achievements are the universal currency for accomplishment and every game in the world has achievments,” 19-year-old Kiip co-founder Brian Wong tells me, explaining what he calls the “Achievement Moment.” “The achievement itself isn’t the cool thing, it’s the moment. We realized that the moment was worth something. The natural evolution is to put something there that actually matches the achievement.”

Wong emphasizes that Kiip (pronounced Keep) isn’t a conventional ads network but a “Rewards Network”. Hmmm … It depends on what you consider an ad. Offering players custom-tailored rewards is basically lead generation. It’s an easy away for advertisers to associate their brand with a positive moment, almost diabolical in its simplicity; “Driving for customer acquisition when players are happy.”

As of midnight tonight the Kiip Rewards Network will be rolling out rewards in over 15 games, reaching 12 million monthly active users (Wong wouldn’t tell me which games they were involved with so if anyone sees a Kiip ad please let me know).  Brands will pay up when a user signs up for a reward, from 25 cents to $3 per cost per engagement.

The rewards themselves are actually targeted algorithmically based on the game demographics, for example if no girls play a game there will be no offers for lipstick. If someone ends up with something they don’t want they can always gift it.

Kiip is also complimentary to other mobile ad networks as it only provides rewards for achievements and doesn’t get into banner ads or the real estate business. Says Wong, “People have been too focused on real estate and pieces of the screen being part of the advertising equation, but they’ve completely overlooked the notion of moments, moments where you’re happy, moments when you engage. These moments are worth something.”

Co-founded by former Digg employees Wong, Courtney Guertin and Sequence’s Amadeus Demarzi, Kiip pocketed $4 million in Series A funding from Hummer Winblad and True Ventures just last week. Wong tells me the team has got a lot more up its sleeve, and as always, you’ll read about it first here.

Information provided by CrunchBase

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General Mills No Longer Needs Huge Budgets to Talk to Specific Segments


CHICAGO ( — The package-goods model has always been a no-brainer: Create a mass-appeal product; distribute it nationally; stoke demand with big-budget, shotgun-style advertising to spray the widest possible market; and hope sales hit the magical $100 million first-year benchmark. But that traditional model is evolving at major marketers such as General Mills.


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