Not too long ago, there were relatively large variations among global markets, but mobile is now getting in sync around the world.
When QR codes were big in Japan, they were a novelty in the U.S. Now the codes are becoming common across geographies, with more than 17 million European smartphone users scanning in a three-month period this year, according to comScore. This is an increase of 96 percent in the past year. In Germany, 19 percent of smartphone users scan codes and in the U.K, that number is three million. But QR code scanning is but yet one small indicator.
Another small gauge of mobile market synchronization is the increase in the number of tablets around the globe. For example, tablet sales in Argentina increased 69 percent to 91,000 units in the first half of the year and tablet sales in Mexico will reach 1.5 million — more than double last year’s sales, according to IDC.
Retail sales of tablets in Latin America will reach $1.2 billion this year, but will triple to nearly $4 billion next year, says research firm Euromonitor. Eighteen percent of smartphone users in the U.K. own a tablet, followed closely by Spain with 17 percent and Italy and France with 15 percent penetration among smartphone owners, according to comScore. But those are very small indicators in the grand scheme.
The most significant bellwether is smartphone penetration, which until recently was widely inconsistent and certainly below the majority of phones in most markets. In Southeast Asia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and Cambodia increased smartphone sales ranged up to 400 percent over the previous year, according to researchers at Gfk.
The research also shows that smartphone penetration in Singapore and Malaysia has reached 88 percent, with almost nine out of every 10 consumers using a smartphone In The Netherlands, more than half (58%) of Dutch consumers use smartphones — up from 42 percent just a year earlier, according to a new report from Telecompaper. Nielsen pegs current U.S. smartphone penetration at 55 percent.
Smartphone penetration in major European markets is on the rise, according to comScore:
- Spain – 55%
- UK – 55%
- Italy – 45%
- France – 45%
- Germany – 41%.
The point is that smartphones are overtaking the world mobile market. Overall mobile penetration is expected to reach 100 percent in a year, according to Portio Research. That is, there will be as many mobile phones in market as there are people on the planet. Portio also projects:
- China will have more than 500 million active smartphones in four years.
- Handset shipments in 2016 will exceed one billion smartphones and one billion non-smartphones annually.
- There will be 50 million active smartphones in Europe in two years.
- North American smartphone penetration will hit 70 percent in four years.
Viewing the global market by iOS and Android devices, the fastest-growing markets are China (293%), Vietnam (269%), Colombia (260%), Chile (235%) and Ukraine (209%), based on the latest counts from Flurry.
What all this means to marketers is that the potential for mobile, global reach is dramatically increasing for brands in every market. This is not the Internet — it is the mobile net, with all the location and always-on aspects that go along with it.
There already are more than a billion active mobile broadband subscriptions in the world, according to the ITU. This translates into more smartphone owners being enabled to do more with their phones, such as watching video and using their devices for Web access while on the go.
The scope of the mobile market is no longer in doubt — but now it is also very broad geographically and getting in sync. As mobile makes the world smaller, mobile technology as well as marketing can be deployed more widely.
Chuck Martin is editor of mCommerce Daily at MediaPost and writes the daily MobileShopTalk. He is author of “The Third Screen,” “The Smartphone Handbook,” and the soon-to-be-published “Mobile Influence.” He is CEO of Mobile Future Institute and a frequent mobile keynote speaker around the globe.