Seven major mobile trends you should be aware of

Mobile phones are changing the face of communication and marketing in emerging markets around the world, and the implications are profound. The environment is changing at a rapid pace, but I’ve identified seven major trends that are defining the mobi space right now, and suggested ways that businesses can adapting to them.

Here are a few basic points:

1. Mobile usage has become pervasive
In 1999, 11% of South African adults had access to a phone. In 2009, this number had reached 70%. Handset and airtime prices are only coming down, although not as fast as we would like. But at the end of the day, it only means that mobile usage will continue to grow.

Take home: Mobile can be used to reach all demographics.

2. Mobile devices have experienced dramatic evolution
Phones have advanced quickly, while the prices have been dropping. For R300, you can get a “cheapie” that does what a mid-range phone did five years ago. Colour screens, mp3 support, cameras and features that were considered “advanced” a few years ago are now ubiquitous.

Take home: The lowest common denominator is steadily moving higher. Don’t be too shy of getting a bit fancy with your mobile marketing schemes, and don’t underestimate the consumer.

3. The device market is shifting in favour of smartphones
You could buy a smartphone handset a year ago for R2800 – the equivalent today is R1200. Smartphones are no longer the lofty pinnacle for the few, and with the evolution of Android and Windows Phone 7, it seems that .

Take home: Smartphones are at the higher-end, but today’s high-end is tomorrow’s mid-range. Think about tomorrow’s user.

4. Increased ownership of smart devices is driving mobile internet growth
Smartphone users do more of everything – browse, download and use apps, social network, music, video, messaging. The more you do online, the more comfortable you are online, so the more you do online.

Take home: We’re facing a “positive feedback” mechanism that will drive very rapid growth in both use and type of use.

5. Communications modes are undergoing a significant shift
Social networks are rapidly becoming the primary way mobile users are exchanging information. Querying a social network is frequently easier and faster than browsing and searching, especially when you have a tiny screen and keyboard.

Take home: Forget mobile-friendly social media marketing at your peril

6. Mobile content will continue to see strong growth
As the mobile market matures and devices increase in sophistication there will be an increased appetite for mobile content of all types – and access to this content will be made simpler by new generation mobile platforms and app stores. Mobile apps, games, mobile video, mobile music – downloaded and streamed, these are all booming as demand booms.

Take home: Content costs money – so either producers must make material that’s worth users paying for, or bring in funding from advertisers who want the exposure.

7. Tablets are changing the face of mobile computing
EMarketer projects 12.9 million iPad shipments in 2010, 36.5 million in 2011 and 50.4 million by 2012. These devices may be a solution waiting for a problem or they may also be best-selling Moleskine notebook of the 21st Century.
Take home: A tablet is neither a phone, nor a computer – and how to plan around it is a bit of an unknown. It’s an area marketers need to watch to develop their strategies accordingly.



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