The Explosion of Mobile is Transforming our Lives


The Explosion of Mobile

Mobile devices are changing the way we stay connected, entertain ourselves, create memories, find places, perform our jobs, learn about the world and buy things. We are no longer simply consumers of media, we are the media. Social media and mobile device proliferation will disrupt several industries – it will create wealth and destroy wealth. The way we live, work and interact will never be the same. Let’s examine some of the numbers to better grasp the significance of this transformation.

In the past five years, Internet traffic has quintupled and there are now more than a trillion pages of content online. This growth is closely tied to an explosion in the use of mobile:

  • Mobile phone usage has surged with over five billion in use globally (over 900 million in China alone).[1]
  • Phone and tablet mobile subscriptions have surpassed six billion globally.[2]
  • There are three times as many mobile phones in the world as there are computers.[3]
  • Combined tablet and smartphone shipments have already surpassed those of desktops and notebooks.[4]
  • Mobile data bandwidth usage is soaring over 70 percent per year[5] and doubled recently.[6]
  • By 2014 the number of mobile Internet users will surpass the number of desktop Internet users.[7]
  • The penetration rate of smartphones has already surpassed feature phones in many countries around the world (one out of two Americans now own a smartphone).[8]
  • About 25 years ago, over half of the world’s population had not made a single telephone call[9] – today the global penetration rate of mobile subscriptions is up to 86 percent of the planet![10]

Rapid mobile growth is occurring globally. [11] In fact, there are now 105 countries in the world with more than 100 mobile device subscriptions for every 100 people![12] (Extensive current ICT[i] statistics for several countries are available from the International Telecommunications Union.[13])

Mobile Device Proliferation and Usage is Accelerating

As a result of this astonishing mobile growth, over two-thirds of small business owners now see mobile marketing as crucial.[14] And the growth is unlikely to subside. By 2015 there will be 20 times more content, 20 times more cloud subscribers, 15 times more apps and 4 times more mobile transactions compared to four years earlier. By 2016 there will be 2.5 billion smartphones in the world, growing by more than one billion per year.[15] By 2017 global tablet sales will reach one-quarter billion per year.[16]

Smartphones are Transforming our Personal Lives

Our smartphones are with us almost all the time no matter where we are. Mobile usage at the 2012 Olympics surged with excited fans texting and tweeting event results as they occurred. So much so, that the wireless networks were overwhelmed and TV commentators were unable to submit their official results.[17] And to share a local example, after the 2011 Stanley Cup hockey riots in Vancouver, Canada, witnesses actually sent 1,000 hours of video and over a million photos to the police as evidence to help catch the thugs and muggers.[18] Mobile devices have become integral to our daily lives.

Our growing attachment to mobile devices is remarkable. Consumers are now spending more time daily on smartphones than print publications and newspapers combined. For many, smartphones are becoming their lifeline to the world. A recent UK study revealed that over one-third of adults and 60 percent of teens admit to being highly addicted to their smartphones.[19] Mothers appear to be especially enamored with their smartphones; 21 percent of them using them in the bathroom and 12 percent even admitting to using them during sex![20] In China recently, Apple had to suspend iPhone sales in Beijing and Shanghai due to the actions of unruly fans desperate to get their hands on the latest model.[21]

Watch the Video: Funny Mobile Phone Addicts TV commercial – we really are addicted. <http://goo.gl/wNhZM> (Duration: one minute)

Smartphones are primarily used as a:

  1. Social Portal – Communications, social networking, photo/video sharing, etc.
  2. Entertainment Portal – Games, music, videos, etc.
  3. Information Portal – Basic information such as weather, maps, sports and news, and
  4. Transaction Portal – Commerce transactions, banking transactions, etc. [23]

The front cover of this book symbolizes how mobile devices have triggered an explosion in these four key areas.

Mobile phones are becoming more and more integrated into the fabric of our daily lives. Americans spend almost three hours per day socializing on their mobile phones. Including talk time, one study suggests that people spend over 90 percent of their time on mobile phones socializing. Many people keep their mobile phones within about three feet of themselves, 24 hours a day! [24]

Smartphone apps are in the early stages of usage for a wide range of applications compared to laptops/desktops. A growing percentage of mobile phone users are using their phones for more than just phone calls:

  • 75 percent are text messaging (up 7 percent from a year ago)
  • 50 percent are using browsers (up 25 percent from a year ago), and
  • 51 percent are using mobile apps (up 28 percent from a year ago).[25]

Smartphones are Transforming our Business Lives

Mobile devices have become one of the most important and necessary modes of business communication – from small businesses to corporate giants, from executives to entrepreneurs, from teachers to students. “29 percent of business professionals use their mobile devices at least once an hour” and “73 percent of small business owners work remotely on their mobile devices while on vacation.” It’s not surprising then that almost a third check their mobile devices even before brushing their teeth in the morning.[26]

Once simply a critical business tool for staying on top of phone calls and email, smartphones are on the cusp of morphing into becoming the primary device interface for corporate contacts, applications, databases and workflow processes. Business to Employee (B2E) apps have the potential to deliver sweeping transformational change to many organizations.

Mobile can be a powerful marketing channel to truly build one-on-one relationships through targeted messages delivering the right offer to the right customer at the right place and the right time. These words aren’t just platitudes; I really mean the right offer (through precise analytics) to the right customer (through laser targeting) at the right place and time (through Wi-Fi or GPS location tracking). Reach customers as they walk past your business, make an online mobile search query, or even while they scan a product in one of your competitors’ stores.

It’s exciting to see the growth of mobile as a vital tool not only for communications, information and entertainment but for commerce transactions as well. Smartphone growth is having a significant impact on commerce transactions across several industries. For example, the travel industry has already experienced a significant impact from mobile usage. More than half of smartphone owners access travel content and almost 20 percent are already booking air travel and hotel reservations.[27] Forty percent of Walgreen’s online prescription refills are now coming from mobile devices.[28] In banking, one-third of retail banks’ digital budgets are now devoted to mobile.[29]

This Reliance on Mobile Uncovers Several Risks and Exposures

The amount of data now saved on mobile devices, transmitted across wireless networks and stored on cloud servers everywhere opens up several potential security and privacy issues. The threat of viruses, GPS location-tracking of mobile devices and the loss of confidential corporate/personal data when a phone is lost are real. The cost of exposure could range from a minor embarrassment to a multi-million dollar impact on your brand. Fortunately, solutions are available to address these issues such as: powerful authentication (e.g., password protection, biometrics device access, etc.); data encryption; malware protection; remote data backup; and remote wipe of all data on lost smartphones. Ensure that security and privacy is the cornerstone of the strategies you implement.

Marketers are not Delivering Measureable Results

Leveraging Mobile Social Media strategies can be a powerful way to deliver business results. But a recent study proclaims that 73 percent of CEOs feel that marketers lack business credibility and are not able to demonstrate their ability to generate measurable top-line growth or achieve other business and marketing objectives.[30] It’s important that marketers not rush onto the mobile social media bandwagon before taking a holistic view of what is possible; prioritizing based on business objectives; and then executing tactics that demonstrate clear measurable results. It’s time for marketers to leverage the power of mobile social media to thrive – delivering successful marketing tactics as well as inspiring entirely new business model innovations.

End Notes


[i] ICT = Information Communications Technologies


[1] “List of countries by number of mobile phones in use,” Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_number_of_mobile_phones_in_use&gt;.

[2] Telecomblogs, “Ericsson: There’re 6 billion mobile phone subscriptions globally now,” Telecomblogs. February 23, 2012. <http://telecomblogs.in/?p=2752&gt;.

[3] Dipert, Brian, “Internet data usage: Up, up, and away, and ‘going mobile,’ as The Who might say,” EDN Network. July 19, 2012. <http://www.edn.com/electronics-blogs/brians-brain/4390743/Internet-data-usage–Up–up–and-away–and–going-mobile–as-The-Who-might-say&gt;.

[4] Source: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. <http://www.kpcb.com&gt;.

[5] Staff reports, “AT&T, Mozilla, Angry Birds: News briefs,” Mobile Marketer. July 27, 2011. <http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/resources/news-briefs/10542.html&gt;.

[6] Tode, Chantal, “Coca-Cola SMS-enabled vending machine changing future of mobile payments,” Mobile Marketer. June 17, 2011. <http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/commerce/10231.html&gt;.

[7] “Mobile marketing : the 10 facts you need to know,” Simply Zesty. July 7, 2011. <http://www.simplyzesty.com/mobile/mobile-marketing-the-10-facts-you-need-to-know/&gt;.

[9] “ITU/Korea WSIS Thematic Meeting on Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships for Bridging the Digital Divide,” June 24, 2005. <http://www.itu.int/osg/spu/ni/wsisbridges/linked_docs/Background_papers/WSIS_MSP_Background.pdf&gt;.

[10] ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database, “Key statistical highlights: ITU data release June 2012,” June 2012. <http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics/material/pdf/2011%20Statistical%20highlights_June_2012.pdf&gt;.

[11] “POVERTY-FIGHTING MOBILE TRANSACTION SYSTEMS (PART 1): LEVERAGING MOBILE UBIQUITY AT THE BOP,” Invested Development. October 24, 2011. <http://investeddevelopment.com/blog/2011/10/poverty-fighting-mobile-transaction-systems-part-1-leveraging-mobile-ubiquity-at-the-bop/&gt;.

[12] ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database, “Key statistical highlights: ITU data release June 2012,” June 2012. <http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics/material/pdf/2011%20Statistical%20highlights_June_2012.pdf&gt;.

[13] International Telecommunication Union. <http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/index.html&gt;.

[14] Johnson, Lauren, “69pc of small business owners see mobile as imperative for company: study,” – Mobile Commerce Daily. June 28, 2011. <http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/2011/06/28/69-pc-of-small-business-owners-see-mobile-as-imperative-for-company-study&gt;.

[16] Nerney, Chris, “Study: Tablet sales will hit 250 million by 2017,” IT World. November 15, 2012. <http://www.itworld.com/mobile-wireless/196199/study-tablet-sales-will-hit-250-million-2017&gt;.

[17] Cherader, Tom “Olympic fail: Officials tell crowd not to tweet or text during events,” Venture Beat. July 29, 2012. <http://venturebeat.com/2012/07/29/olympic-fail-officials-tell-crowd-not-to-tweet-or-text-during-events/&gt;.

[18] “1 million riot photos sent to police,” CBC News. June 19, 2011. <http://ca.news.yahoo.com/more-1m-riot-photos-sent-police-224538411.html&gt;.

[19] Luksich, Tammy, “Smartphone Addiction: Good or Bad,” Socialnomics. August 4, 2011. <http://www.socialnomics.net/2011/08/04/smartphone-addiction-good-or-bad/&gt;.

[20] Parents Network, “Moms & Media 2” survey. <http://www.techjournal.org/tag/demographics/&gt;.

[21] “Apple suspends iPhone sales at China stores,” Hurriyet Daily News. January 13, 2012. <http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/apple-suspends-iphone-sales-at-china-stores.aspx?pageID=238&nID=11392&NewsCatID=374&gt;.

[22] Uploaded by dbenterprisesonline, “All Of Us Are Mobile Addicts… Social Proof Right Here From Microsoft,” YouTube. April 21, 2011. <http://goo.gl/wNhZM&gt; or <www.youtube.com/watch?v=282tOyZUIpc&feature=player_embedded>.

[23] “Top U.S. Smartphone App Categories,” comScore Date Mine. July 25, 2011. <http://www.comscoredatamine.com/2011/07/top-u-s-smartphone-app-categories&gt;.

[24] Uploaded by j3solutionsrock, “iZigg Mobile Marketing at it’s (sic) BEST!” YouTube. June 26, 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1bRj7JxOQI&gt;.

[25] <http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2012/8/comScore_Reports_June_2012_U.S._Mobile_Subscriber_Market_Share&gt; and “comScore Reports June 2011 U.S. Mobile Subscriber Market Share – comScore, Inc.” comScore, Inc. – Measuring the Digital World. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. <http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events&gt;

[26] Johnson, Lauren, “69pc of small business owners see mobile as imperative for company: study,” Mobile Commerce Daily. June 28, 2011. <http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/2011/06/28/69-pc-of-small-business-owners-see-mobile-as-imperative-for-company-study&gt;.

[27] “Smart Travel: Majority of Smartphone Owners Now Access Travel Information on their Devices,” comScore. April 18, 2012. <http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2012/4/Majority_of_Smartphone_Owners_Now_Access_Travel_Information_on_their_Devices&gt;.

[28] Tode, Chantal, “Walgreens maps out mobile strategy with in-store navigation app,” Mobile Commerce Daily. July 18, 2012. <http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/2012/07/18/walgreens-maps-out-mobile-strategy-with-in-store-navigation-app&gt;.

[29] Tode, Chantal, “Banks pour one-third of digital investments into mobile: Forrester,” Mobile Commerce Daily. June 21, 2012. <http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/2012/06/21/banks-pour-one-third-of-digital-investments-into-mobile-report&gt;.

[30] The Fournaise Marketing Group, 2011 Global Marketing Effectiveness Program, as quoted in <http://www.fournaisegroup.com/MarketersLackCredibility.asp?_fwaHound=15127937_12185_15127937_0_0_0_0&gt;.

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