Mobile Digest: Mobile sales dominate record-setting Black Friday

Mobile devices are starting to take the crazy out of holiday shopping. Andrew Tolve reports.

In the news


Foot traffic at physical stores was down this year on Black Friday while finger traffic on mobile devices soared. Black Friday 2017 became the first day in retail history to drive over $1 billion in mobile revenue. The specific tally was $1.2 billion, a 33% year-over-year growth according to Adobe Analytics. Furthermore, 60% of all traffic to online retail sites happened on smartphones, up from 53% a year ago, and 42% of Black Friday purchases were made on phones, according to retail data from Salesforce. Top-selling products included Apple iPads, Samsung 4K TVs and Lego Creator sets. While foot traffic was down, it was only down less than 1%, according to research firm ShopperTrak, which combined with strong online growth led to record setting sales numbers across the board.


In the money


Snap took a $40 million writedown on its Snap Spectacles, the $129 video glasses that have been a cornerstone of its monetization strategy since going public in March. After taking a net loss of $443.2 million in the third quarter, the company admitted that it has hundreds of thousands of unsold Spectacles sitting in warehouses in China. Snap shares plunged 16% on the news.


In other news


Net neutrality is about to go the way of the Dodo. The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, published plans to undo Obama-era regulations that required telecom providers like Verizon and AT&T to provide equal access to all internet and app content. Pai says the regulations are bad for broadband investment. The official vote, which is all but a formality, will take place December 14.


Another week, another round of troubling headlines for Uber. This time it surfaced that Uber paid hackers $100,000 in hush money after a hack that exposed personal information from 57 million customers and drivers back in 2016. The company is now under investigation by The US Federal Trade Commission, Britain’s National Cyber Security Center and National Crime Agency and a host of US state attorneys general.


On the bright side, Uber is on the precipice of raising roughly $10 billion, courtesy of a $1 billion investment by SoftBank and other investors based on a $69 billion valuation. The investors also plan to buy up to 17% of Uber in stocks. The goal for Uber is to raise cash to fend off competitors like Lyft and pursue new innovations like self-driving cars. On the latter front, Uber announced last week plans to buy up to 24,000 self-driving cars from Volvo, outfitted with Uber self-driving tech, between 2019 and 2021.


Lyft closed $1 billion in funding in October and is now looking to raise an additional $500 million in capital. Lyft is coming to Canada in December (its first market outside of the US) and is hoping to slide into the UK in the wake of Uber’s legal troubles there. The company also just secured a permit to start testing self-driving cars on public roads in California.


Google’s hotly anticipated wireless headphones, dubbed the Pixel Buds, are finally out, and the reviews are unanimously rotten. The things hurt in your ears, have annoying controls that make it difficult to skip songs and have inconsistent pairing problems. Still interested? They retail for $159.


After doubling its character count from 140 to 280 in early November, Twitter is now rolling out a new way to let users fire off even more content: the tweetstorm. The function lets users bundle a bunch of separate but related tweets together and send them in a single blast, which allows them to visually command (aka clog up) more real estate on the news feed. The feature is currently being alpha and beta tested.


Obsessed with Apple? Now you can make a pilgrimage to its new Apple Park campus in Mountain View, California, and actually get through the front door. The company opened a new Visitor Center at Apple Park, where fans can buy lots of Apple merchandise (from special hats and shirts to devices like the iPad and iPhone X). Also on tap are augmented reality tours for the parts of the campus that you can’t actually tour and an eatery called Cafe Macs.


The Mobile Digest is a biweekly lowdown on the world of mobile, combining Open Mobile Media analysis with information from industry press releases.

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to Open Mobile Media.