Our latest survey asked 100 people if they would consider switching back to Yahoo! search engine with the departure of Terry Semel. We also asked what their current top search engine choice was.
Google dominated our survey. 90% of respondents used Google as their primary search engine. 6% used Yahoo! and 2% used MSN. 0% used Ask.com. The commentary on the CEO change at Yahoo! was the most interesting part of our survey and we believe the commentary is useful consumer feedback for Yahoo!.
Comments we received from our survey included the following:
“Yahoo! used to be my search engine of choice, but lately the website layout has become too crowded. when compared to Google: too much information when all I want is one search box.”
“Yahoo! content is still great, but I prefer Google’s speed over Yahoo!’s slow page loading times. If both were equally fast, I’d probably choose Yahoo!.”
“I used to use Yahoo! all the time; however, I found that I got better results with Google. I will continue using Google no matter who runs Yahoo!. ”
The key to comments are two fold. First it was clear that many users of Google were former Yahoo! users for search. Second, most respondents said they were happy with Google search results and that Yahoo! would need to improve or innovate on a large scale to get them to break current search habits.
Jerry Yang’s return may signal a return by Yahoo! to more focus on search but the CEO change alone does not appear to be influencing actual users of search. Google continues to remain the king of search.
We have recently conducted a survey to determine into which geographies Clearwire service is expanding. We realize that Clearwire shows expansion cities on their website but these only include Syracuse, NY; Nashville, TN and Dayton, OH now.
Our survey covered over 40 cities and we asked the following questions:
Do you offer Clearwire Service in my area?
If no, when will you?
Do I need special equipment to receive Clearwire service?
The survey results were interesting to us as respondents from Syracuse told us Clearwire service is available there now. We also got responses that service was available in Cleveland, OH (not projected on Clearwire site) and that service would soon be available in Virginia Beach, VA (also not projected on Clearwire site). Houston residents can likely expect Clearwire service soon as we were told that service is up and running in Corpus Christi, TX (another city only shown as projected on the Clearwire site) and that Houston would have service likely in early fall 2007. We note that Houston is not shown as a projected city by Clearwire.
Why would Clearwire run ahead of roll-out plans? We believe that Clearwire is offering service early in cities to gain subscriber momentum, to test our network operations and to make a positive impression on financial backers as the company continues to expand and spend large sums of money on capital expenditures. The advance deployments versus publicly communicated plans could also be intended to help beat subscriber growth target expectations of shareholders and analysts.
Consumers will need customer premise equipment from Clearwire. The communication on this topic from Clearwire representatives is mixed. We believe that they should answer “yes” to consumers asking about the need for special equipment since the service cannot work without Clearwire specific hardware. Only 25 our of 44 Clearwire customer service representatives we spoke with told us we needed a modem from Clearwire which we could buy or rent. The other 19 told use we did not need any new equipment. This is not a major problem but could cause some poor customer experiences for new users in new markets.
Our view from the survey is that Clearwire service is being expanded faster than is publicly discussed by the company and that this expansion is likely to produce strong subscriber growth metrics when Clearwire reports 2Q and 3Q results.
We conducted a 55 store survey on wi-fi routers. We asked three simple questions:
What is the best wi-fi router?
What is the cheapest wi-fi router?
What is the fastest wi-fi router you have?
The answers were not surprising on the surface but a little digging offers some interesting finding. The “Best” wi-fi router was deemed to be Linksys by 26 out of 55 stores (47%) we called. D-Link was the number two brand with 12 out of 55 (22% ) recommending it as “best”. Netgear was the only other brand to get mentioned more than once with 8 responses out of 55 (15%). While these results on the surface might be expected, we checked responses by store and found that 70% of Best Buy and Circuit City reps recommended Linksys while only 17% of employees at independent electronics or smaller chain stores recommended the Linksys router.
On the topic of cheapest wi-fi router to buy, Netgear and Belkin were ranked number 1 and 2. Netgear was the cheapest at 27% of stores (15/55) while Belkin was cheapest at 16% (9/55). Linksys was reported as the cheapest at 15% of stores (8/55). We saw more brands pop up in this survey area around the cheapest wi-fi routers including Airlink, Trendnet, Network Everywhere, Borscht and Netcomm.
The final question on the fastest wi-fi router brought back many answers around the G and N versions of 802.11. Top speeds were reported to be 54Mbs (most often cited) to 225Mbps (for the Apple Airport) and beyond. Some respondents claimed speeds up to 300Mbs. It is fairly clear that awareness of new G and N standards are thoroughly in the marketplace but none of these newer standards based routers are being mentioned as “best” or “cheapest”. The shift for consumers to G and above for wi-fi appears to still be on the horizon despite the products clearly moving into the retail sales channel across almost all retailers.
We’ll re-run this survey later this summer to see if we pick up any shifts in market share among the top brands or changes in allegiance from the likes of Best Buy and Circuit City.
We have conducted a survey on trends in tea sales at Starbucks. We called 50 Starbucks stores and asked the following questions:
1. Do you sell tea and tea based drinks?
2. Are tea drink sales increasing versus a year ago.
3. If yes to #2, why are tea sales increasing?
The results were interesting. Yes, Starbucks does sell tea, although four respondents said they did not sell tea which suggests something about tea sales at those stores or knowledge of tea sales by those workers. We’ll chalk those up to sampling error and go with the 46 respondents who said yes to these questions.
Tea sales were reported as up against a year ago by 30 out of our 50 respondents. Some respondents cited weather as a reason, like our southeastern U.S. respondent who reported the heat drove up sales of Green Tea Frappucino’s recently. The biggest driver in the pick-up in tea sales was that customers were learning more about the health benefits of tea and were seeking out healthier drink options. The other interesting trend in our survey was that drinking tea was deemed to be more fashionable and a sign of being with “it”. New York City and San Francisco responses cited being fashionable as a driver of increased tea sales.
Tazo Tea’s and Green Tea Frappucino’s were cited as popular tea options at Starbucks and a few barristas we spoke with mentioned that new flavors and drink combinations based on tea were coming out soon. Could Starbucks be moving to capitalize on the tea trend? In the other direction we plan on surveying Starbucks again to track their doughnut offerings as those seem to be spreading as well. Looks like Starbucks could be looking to draw in more of both the health conscious and and the health un-conscious consumers. But for now, we’ll keep our eyes out for new tea options at a Starbucks near you.
In early May, we called 36 AT&T Wireless stores and found out that many of those stores carried waiting lists for the iPhone. This research lead us to believe that demand was perhaps stronger than anticipated for this hotly anticipated device. As a follow-up to that survey, we recently called 100 more stores to confirm or refute our earlier study. We asked three key questions of our survey respondents:
1. Is the retail outlet corporate owned or a franchise location?
2. Can the iPhone be pre-ordered?
3. Is there a waiting list?
We viewed the question on pre-ordering as one that implied the ability to better guarantee an iPhone when released. As reported widely last week, Apple released television ads highlighting that June 29th would be the launch date for the phone.
The results appear to confirm our previous study that demand for the iPhone is strong.
For the follow-up study, we called 100 AT&T Wireless stores - 57 were corporate owned and 43 were franchisee owned. 37% of the stores reported pre-order lists, while 55% of the surveyed stores reported waiting lists. Overall, there was very little difference between the corporate-owned and the franchised stores. The parity between the rates of pre-order lists suggests that corporate missives from AT&T are not altering behavior of the employees at the retail level. We continue to believe that employees are creating pre-order and waiting lists to lock-in iPhone customers and as a result, to lock-in sales commissions for themselves. The violation of corporate policy at corporate owned stores further validates the powerful demand building for the iPhone product in our opinion.
As we understand it, the official AT&T policy is no waiting lists for any phones, yet we have found significant waiting lists at many of the 136 AT&T stores we’ve called. We believe that the waiting lists, in violation of corporate policy, provide a picture into demand for the iPhone. We believe our survey results indicate that demand will be significant and that while great success is already expected for the iPhone, the actual demand may still exceed these expectations.