Something a bit different today, but something which I'm sure is relevant to many of you.
The updated app has undergone a significant makeover as Betfair looks to increase their stake in the mobile empire. Mobile betting is undoubtedly the future, and 2012 has seen the emergence of many bookmakers attempting to utilise this technological innovation by improving their apps and offering free bets for mobile users. In their press release Betfair claimed that 44 million mobile bets had been placed in FY12, an increase of 122%, totalling £2.2bn worth of bets being placed. Despite this, I think the mobile industry boom is best summed up by the statistic that 10% of customers claimed to have traded a bet whilst on the toilet, along with 20% who admitted to using the app whilst at a wedding. The figures did not disclose how many of those users was the groom.
The new skin and design of the app is sleek and sophisticated, especially when compared to apps from various bookmakers and exchanges. Betfair claims to be revolutionising the betting industry and the new interface certainly gives off that impression. Smooth and easy to navigate, the home screen presents you with most of the options you should need, without bombarding you with information. The slide-along option bar at the top of the screen allows easy access to the most popular sports, as well as an in-play and casino option. Other options are easily accessible from a drop-down list in the top corner. When in your account, all your information is neatly laid out for you making it easy to check existing bets and deposit or withdraw.
Whilst making it easier for the casual punter to place and review bets, the app has made basic steps towards helping traders utilise mobile betting also. Giving the user greater amounts of information seems to be the theme of the update, and the market depth and liquidity information is a simple yet crucial addition to the app. Furthermore, the market graphs provided are a more than welcome addition. Whilst it will be difficult for the app to ever truly replace the computer for serious traders, it does now allow them to do improved research and study the markets whilst on their travels. The press release boasted other minor new features such as bookmarking facilities and landscape mode, yet the update which I have so far found the most useful is the live bet 'what-if' and P&L feature. Since using my mobile to trade I have continuously become frustrated at the need to manually work out how much I need to lay or back in order to green up. The new what-if feature allows you to enter your stake whilst seeing how this will affect your bet, exactly as it would if you were to use your computer. This is extremely useful and will no doubt save a lot of skewed green books.
It is difficult to assess this particular part of the app due to differing network coverage and internet speeds, but on the whole I have found this to be a particular downfall of the software. As a Vodafone user it is not fair to compare the internet speed against other networks, so I can only compare the app to the mobile edition of the website. Whether it is because it has more data to load or any other reason, I don't know, but so far I have found the web version of Betfair considerably faster than the app, and therefore find this a considerable deterrent from using the app. Although using the app in-play has considerable benefits when compared to the mobile site, the distinct lack of speed is a serious problem for traders as timing is one of the key assets needed to turn a profit. At times I have had to reload pages on the app a number of time before they have appeared or updated, particularly with games which are in-play. I have not been using the app for too long, but at many times I have already found myself referring back to the web version for quicker access, and this does not bode particularly well for the future.
It is only fair to compare the app to those of other bookmakers, as well as Betdaq's and other exchanges. On this front, the bottom line is that Betfair's app is miles ahead of any other on the market. It is smoother, prettier and more detailed than any other, and should certainly help to maximise Betfair's profits from the mobile market in the future.
Speed is a distinct problem for the Android app however, in more ways than one. Betfair claimed the majority of their mobile bets last year from Android phones had been placed largely through the web version, due to their inefficient app. As one of those who didn't get on with the previous version of the app, I can say that the update has not done too much to dispel these demons. I feel an update is needed to reduce the loading time, because in every other aspect the app is sound. As a devout Android user however, my biggest qualm is with the timing of this new edition. Iphone users have long been enjoying an app of similar capabilities, and were also able to enjoy the special Euro 2012 app which was not available on Android. Considering the similarities in the mobile market share between Apple and Android, in the app download market Android actually dominates with a 44% market share compared to 31% at Apple, I find it particularly disappointing that it has taken Betfair such a long time to develop an app which brings both platforms level.
Overall rating: 7/10 - Miles ahead of similar apps but not yet up to high standards expected