ComScore releases Mobile year in review 2010

21 February 2011

ComScore releases Mobile year in review 2010

Recently comScore released its annual Mobile year in review whitepaper, which takes an in-depth look at smartphone adoption and mobile media consumption in both the US, EU G5 and Japan. We have selected some highlights which might be of interest for digital marketers. You can download the full report here.

What is immediately clear from the comScore data is that 2010 saw an enormous uptake in smartphone adoption and mobile media consumption. Even the definition of ‘mobile’ changed through the introduction of tablet devices such as the iPad.

While the overall number smartphone owners in the European G5 still exceeds the US (72 million vs. 63 million), the usage of mobile media is far more wide-spread across the pond than in Europe. This mostly has to do with the higher availability and lower price of unlimited data plans in the US compared to EU.

When looking at the prevalence of mobile devices is not always easy to avoid comparing Apples to oranges (pun intended). Cupertino’s strategy of releasing only a limited number of handsets makes them king-of-the-hill when it comes to specific units sold. In contrast, Google’s Android platform surpassed Apple in terms of installed base, but sales where spread across 68 different handset variants. Please note that sheer handset numbers do not always add up to increased reach. Nokia is still market leader in countries like the UK, Gemany, Italy and Spain, but Symbian users consume significantly less mobile content than their Android or iOS counterparts.

Nowadays smartphone purchasers are not simply looking for a phone, but rather for a device that provides a complete mobile media experience, including apps, music, and video. An interesting observation is that the operating system (OS) is becoming an increasingly important factor when choosing a smartphone. The main challenge for mobile projects is that this leads to quite some heterogeneity on the market. Although Apple’s marketing creates the perception that they are number #1 by far, the figures show a very splintered playing field. Also, Android’s growth figures over 2010 show that 6 months is an eternity in mobile.

Our recommendations to cope with this fast paced change are threefold:

  • Look objectively at the numbers for your demographic; don’t assume you know what type of handset your target audience is using;
  • Go for built-in flexibility: deploy multiple small-scale and short-term projects and don’t commit to a particular platform or technology for the long run if you don’t have to;
  • Where possible work platform agnostic, or move the problem to a partner or service provider.

What are all these mobile users consuming online? In both the US and EU G5 social networking, (mainly Facebook which reaches over 80% of mobile users) takes up most of their mobile time online. Personal email is also on the rise, as are search, games, maps, online retail and news feeds. In Japan, which is a far bigger -and more matured mobile market- almost 10 million mobile users made use of their ‘mobile wallet’, which means using their smartphone in lieu of debit or credit cards for in-person purchases. Mobile applications provide “instant gratification” and have the potential to create high conversion rates. But the availability of easy-to-use in-app payment systems will be the crux for true m-commerce to take off.

Looking into 2011 and beyond it is clear that smartphone adoption, and mobile media usage is only going to get bigger. According to comScore at least half of mobile users will have access to mobile media by the end of 2011. This means a drastic change in the way audiences are consuming media, and thus marketing strategies must be adopted to this change.

There are two golden rules for digital marketers:

  • First of all: customize your message to the level of the individual. If your content is not relevant, the patience of the mobile user is close to zero. But the inverse is also true: if you manage to start a truly relevant conversation, the user will grant you near-infinite attention.
  • Secondly: think mobile first! Create interactions intended for mobile and ask yourself “why would I limit my target audience to PC/web users only?”

A number of exiting challenges hide behind these seemingly simple rules, but the potential is enormous. An integrated multichannel strategy (including mobile) is soon becoming a conditio sine qua non for any (digital) marketing department.

Written by Kenneth Peeters

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