We’re in a state of mobile transition.
Pouring over some of the various pieces of mobile research this week, of which there is a lot these days, it stuck me that mobile is moving into its next phase, which we plead not to be called Mobile 2.0.
Smartphone penetration in the U.S. has finally reached 50 percent, though higher in the 25-34-year-old demographic, says Nielsen, and comScore pegs Android at half of that entire share.
Latin America is on its way to more than 50 percent smartphones in a few years and in the last quarter, 24 million smartphones were shipped in China, more than in the U.S. for the first time. More smartphones than full-featured phones are now sold in the U.S.
But the number of smartphones is not just about small, high-speed processing hardware. It points to new empowerment being placed into the hands of what will be billions of consumers as new capabilities are incorporated into mobile phones.
The number of NFC (near-field communications) handsets shipped is expected to grow from about 44 million last year to more than 630 million within three years, according to UK-based research firm Informa Telecoms and Media.
By that time, three quarters of the NFC handsets are projected to be smartphones, the largest number being Androids, estimates SmartCard Trends.
The swipe and tap-enabled buying capabilities built-in to these NFC phones will allow an easier modification in how consumers buy, or at least pay.
And with smarpthones comes the need for speed, which is growing along with the growth of mobile devices, and not just via 4G mobile networks.
For example, 61 percent of American households now have Wi-Fi, according to new data from Strategy Analytics, and the U.S. doesn’t even lead the global markets. In South Korea, 80 percent of homes have Wi-Fi, 73 percent in the U.K., 71 percent in Germany and France, 68 percent in Japan and Canada and 61 percent in Italy.
This growth of mobile capability will change behavior as more consumers expect to do more on their own timeframe in their own location at any given moment.
The challenge and opportunity for marketers in this evolution is to attempt to stay a step or two ahead of the consumer, who tends to be a leap ahead of companies in their wireless behaviors while many businesses in various parts of the world work toward solutions.
For example, on recent trips to South America and China, leaders of large companies and businesses of various categories told me they intend to embrace mobile in a big way moving forward and planning mobile investments for short and long-term growth.
Many businesses in the U.S. have a similar viewpoint and approach, but still can manage to be somewhat surprised by mobile consumer behavior.
After all, how many retailers and brands accurately anticipated the amount of shopping and transactions conducted via tablets over the holidays? (Based on a recent MediaPost mobile conference, not many).
The bottom line is that money is not only moving to mobile it will be moving through mobile. Lots of money.
The value of mobile commerce transactions is projected to grow 97 percent a year for the next three years, according to a recent study by KPMG. That’s almost 100 percent annual growth in one category. Comparing this percentage increase to the mobile marketing budget percentage growth of any business you know might help explain why mobile consumers are leading the way.
Mobile spending around the world is expected to reach $945 billion in three years. Spending by SMS is forecast to drop from 75 percent of transactions to 52 percent, says IE Market Research, driven in part by the adoptions of NFC technology.
Another indicator of the growth of mobile also is the slowed growth of PCs, now estimated by IDC to be 9 percent this year, as more consumers spend more time on wireless devices. In South America for example, 27 percent of IT professional have completely replaced their laptops with an iPad, according to IDC.
The next stage in mobile is not about one new thing, such as NFC, ubiquitous Wi-Fi, mobile wallets, the size of transactions or more sophisticated mobile users. It’s about all of these things — and more — combined.
Chuck Martin is author of The Third Screen; Marketing to Your Customers in a World Gone Mobile, CEO of Mobile Future Institute and Director of the Center for Media Research at MediaPost Communications.