Living In The 50 Percent Mobile Club

by Net Future Institute on October 9, 2012

Mobile is living in the land of the half stats.

Half stats are when the numbers hit around 50 percent, or half, of a given market, situation or activity.

For example, about half of U.S. mobile subscribers have a smartphone. The other half stat is that about 50 percent don’t. Some half stats such as this one can be good for two entities — the pro-apps group for one half and the SMS and MMS crowd for the other half, and then some.

It’s sort of like looking at liquid in a glass that is 50 percent filled and deciding if it is half full or half empty.

And that’s where the world of mobile is today — at the 50 percent point in many areas.

The toughest numbers seem to be getting to the 50 percent point and also moving well past it. To be sure, it is difficult and can be time-consuming to reach a half stat such as achieving 50 percent market share, as any marketer well knows. But getting well past the half stat can be even more challenging, as market forces increase and markets saturate.

There seem to be a lot of mobile half stats these days. Here are some recent research findings hovering around half-stat land:

  • Roughly half (47%) of U.S. smartphone owners use mobile shopping apps, according to recent Nielsen research. Translated, that means about 45 million smartphone owners are using apps in the shopping and commerce categories — and about half of smartphone owners are not.
  • About half (47%) of tablet users engage with mobile ads on their tablets more than once a week, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Those who interact are highly likely to take action after seeing the ad, the study showed, but the other half of tablet owners do not engage.
  • While we’re on tablet half stats, half (49%) of tablet owners have clicked on an ad within the last 30 days, says research from Frank N. Magid Associates. The other half did not. The iPad makes up 50 percent of the installed base of tablets. Of consumers who are planning to purchase a tablet in the future, half (51%) are tablet owners, the study showed.
  • Almost half (45%) of NBC’s Olympics video streams went to smartphones and tablets, according to the network.
  • Facebook says that half of its $1 million-a-day run rate for Sponsored Stories comes from mobile. This may be considered good news for some who are looking for revenue from mobile, especially considering that the other half stat has to do with the decline in Facebook stock since its IPO.
  • Mobile half stats are also global. For example, Samsung and Apple combined shipped half of the world’s smartphones last quarter, according to International Data Corporation (IDC).  Samsung accounted for almost half (45%) of smartphone sales in Europe, according to research from Kantar.
  • In addition to geography, half stats have no physical boundaries. For example, a little more than half (55%) of the American public say automakers have taken in-car connectivity — such as Internet-connecting mobile devices — too far.
  • Half stats are in the networks themselves as well. Mobile devices accounted for about half (52%) of Wi-Fi use, according to JiWire. They also found another interesting half stat: half (52%) of tablet owners are mothers.
  • Half stats also can apply to pricing, sometimes in hopes of moving a different half stat. One example was the recent 50 percent price cut of Nokia’s Lumia phones in North America, in hopes of increasing toward the other half stat of market share.
  • Half of U.S. and U.K. gamers prefer smartphones or tablets as their primary gaming platform, according to research from Information Solutions Group.
  • In the half-stat screens department, not only do consumers want to use their mobile screens for games — they also want to involve them with TV viewing, since about half of those with cell phones use them while watching TV, according to Pew research. And half of U.S. consumers would consider watching programs on their tablets and smartphones, according to Mobile Content Venture.

While reaching or maintaining a half stat may carry some significance in segments of the mobile industry, they may have less importance in the minds of a consumer. For example, an iPhone or Android owner may not care that Android phones have the half stat of 50 percent market share if they are happy with their particular phone.

Being a member of the 50 percent club is not half bad.

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