The Year Ahead For Mobile
2013 is shaping up to be the biggest year for mobile so far, as more consumers than ever shift over to smartphones and tablets: 17.4 million iOS and Android devices were activated on Christmas day alone. These numbers support the trends we saw in 2012 as smartphones overtook feature phones and opened up new opportunities for rich and engaging mobile advertising. In South Africa alone, 2013 is expected to be the year when sales of smartphones overtake feature phones for the first time.
Mobile advertising is already a lucrative business, worth some $6.43 billion globally in 2012. And it’s a fast-evolving industry: changes to technologies and consumer habits mean that opportunities to drive greater engagement and new advertising formats are appearing all the time. Perhaps the biggest new opportunity has been created by the launch of super speed LTE mobile services by South African operator Vodacom.
The technology behind 4G, LTE, is up to five times faster than 3G. As more devices start to enter the market, capable of connecting to LTE, prices are expected to come down making them more accessible to a wider audience. Research from Medialets showed consumers spend an average of 20 seconds on mobile rich-media ads increasing to a minute when additional features like games were included. These formats are appealing as they deliver improved metrics to advertisers, which helps create healthier campaigns.The long-term view here is that 4G could usher-in significant changes. The increased speed delivered by 4G has the ability for retailers to offer high-bandwidth mobile downloads in-store to complement their physical offerings. That means advertisers can get creative.
There will also be a real shift in the devices we see in the hands of consumers in 2013. Perhaps we’ll see the iPad losing its iron grip: several analysts say Apple’s share of the tablet market has already dipped below 50%. Yes, the iPad is still the market leader, but in the coming year consumers will be able to choose from the Microsoft Surface, Google Nexus 7, Nook, Kindle Fire HD, Galaxy Tab and more, leading to a more diffused and competitive sector.
It seems strange to say that these are still early days for mobile, as it’s hard to remember a time that we didn’t have our phones by our side every minute of the day. But the reality is that less than one third of us have a smartphone in South Africa. The potential is there for growth both in users and also how we use our phones for more of our every day life. Undoubtably in twelve months time we will be talking about how far mobile has expanded in 2013, and how much further it still has to go.
James Hilton is the chief executive of M&C Saatchi Mobile