Build Your Boat Now Before The Mobile Tsunami Washes You Away

The wave is coming. Like a tsunami that starts miles off shore, unnoticeable to the human eye in the middle of the ocean but gradually builds up speed and power as it gets closer to land, a mobile tidal wave is most definitely building. And it’s forming right in front of our very eyes.

You may have noticed people aren’t looking up very much anymore. No, when you see a person nowadays they are most likely looking down at their hand. Next time you are on public transportation, in a restaurant, at the mall or any other pubic (or private) place, take your eyes off your device and just watch people. It will blow you away how often people look at their mobile devices.

So as I was doing some recent market research I came across quite possibly the most staggering collection of mobile usage and commerce statistics in the world. It’s well worth your review if you want to know where the world is going. Since it takes quite a while to swim through I have pulled out some of the most impressive stats and wrapped them into a conversation about the mobile web. Spoiler alert: You’re gonna get wet!

6 Billion Mobile Devices

There are approximately 5.9 billion mobile subscribers, which is roughly 87 percent of the world population. Mobile subscriptions outnumber fixed lines 5-to-1. Also, there are now 1.2 billion mobile Web users worldwide, based on the latest stats for active mobile-broadband subscriptions. Did you notice the ratio difference between mobile subscribers and mobile web users? It is easy to see why the experts predict that mobile Web usage will overtake PC-based Web usage very soon and why it would be a good idea to have a real mobile strategy.

Many of those mobile Web users are mobile-only, meaning they do not, or very rarely use a desktop, laptop or tablet to access the Web. Even in the US 25 percent of mobile Web users are mobile-only. In mature markets, the mobile Web will be a leading technology for business to consumer (B2C) mobile applications and should be part of every organization’s business strategy. If you are a merchant or a local business you need to pay attention and build that dang boat, a figurative term for your mobile site and interactive mobile experience utilizing an app, mobile browser or text.

8 Trillion Text Messages

Speaking of text messaging. Over 8 trillion text messages were sent in 2011, overtaking voice minutes and making it the worlds most popular mobile communication medium. We have yet to see the biggest impact SMS and messaging will have on our society. A2P, application to person SMS, is expected to overtake person to person SMS in 2016. A2P messaging includes messages between applications and customers in financial services, advertising, marketing, business administration, ticketing, television voting, and other automated systems. This nascent market should not be overlooked – by 2016 A2P messaging is estimated being worth more than $70 billion.

Global expenditure on mobile advertising was approximately $3.6 billion in 2009, and is estimated to grow to $38 billion in 2015 and the worldwide mobile messaging market will reach $334.7 billion by 2015. For any businesses this is significant or a number of reasons, namely to identify the most cost effective platforms to utilize in their mobile commerce.  People respond differently to different types of mobile marketing, proven by studies in the UK and France, where they found opt-in SMS gets the best results, and in Germany mobile Web ads got the best results.  It seems time sensitive special offers or discounts (especially mobile coupons) were most likely to lead to a purchase.

$1 Trillion of Mobile Payments

Most significant will be the transformation in how we use our mobile devices in everyday commerce. Mobile ad spend worldwide is predicted to sky rocket to $20.6 billion in 2015, driven by search ads and local ads. A logical evolution for mobile search is towards mobile transactions. Once the connection has been established through the mobile device, brands can build up much more detailed profiles of users compared to online and plan follow-up campaigns accordingly. In 2009, there were 81.3 million people worldwide using their mobile device to make payments and it is estimated by the end of 2014, this is forecasted to rise to nearly 490 million. Mobile transactions will drastically change our society. The market for paying by mobile device could be well over $1 trillion by 2015.  Simply put, that is HUGE!

Now we know a flood is coming so let’s go back to thinking about your boat. If you were building an actual boat, would it be smart to build only to float in salt water? Probably not. Then why are we building systems and business only for specific devices and operating systems? If you follow that logic you will definitely drown when the tidal wave hits since 95 percent of the worldwide mobile device market is not an Apple.  It would be best to build your boat – a mobile-optimized web experience – looking beyond a single device to maximize reach.  Do it and you will surely rise with the tide.

@jnickhughes

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