Guest Post: Get into mobile fast or fall victim to the web’s mega-brands

by Peter Matthews
by Peter Matthews
December 7, 2012 01:51 PM GMT

Peter Matthews is founder and chief executive of brand and digital consultancy Nucleus

During the dot-com boom, Mary Meeker became known as the ‘Queen of the net’ and was an influential champion of the internet and eCommerce during her time at Morgan Stanley.

Now a partner with Kleiner Perkins she continues to publish influential trends reports, most recently on December 4 with her 2012 “Internet Trends Year-end Report”.

Some of her latest observations are unsurprising: Internet growth remains robust and penetration in the US leads all other countries.

But what stands out is her confirmation of staggering growth in Mobile and mCommerce, confirming our own bi-annual surveys.

According to Meeker, mobile traffic has grown to 13% of global web traffic, up from 10% at mid-year.

There are now 1.1bn smartphone users around the world and growth is running at 45% a year; although this accounts for a mere 17% of all mobile users.

While this shows impressive growth with huge upside potential, what should take any retail or consumer brand owner’s breath away is that smartphones and tablets accounted for 24% of all US online shopping on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving), versus 6% just two years ago.

Out of this near quarter of online shopping comes another staggering fact: iOS devices accounted for 75% of all mCommerce, that’s 4x more than Android, even though Android smartphones outnumber iOS 6:1.

How this splits down is also interesting, with iPhones accounting for 8 of the 24% mCommerce and iPads 10% of the total online shopping.

iPad growth, particularly, is staggering (3x iPhone) leaving “its siblings in the dust” and while Android adoption is growing even faster, this is not translating into mCommerce or web browsing according to Meeker; again confirmed in our own research “So, Google, where are all the Android browsers?”

The failure of Android to come anywhere close to iOS for browsing and buying online remains only partly explained by demographics.

Meeker’s year-end report confirms mCommerce revenues are growing at 129% CAGR, and she expects the smartphone and tablet user base to hit its ‘inflection point’ in Q2 2013, when the installed base will overtake PCs.

Even now, Windows market share has dropped to 35%, compared to a combined 45% for iOS and Android.

A further compelling insight that is sure to impact the way we communicate and do business in the future is that 43% of US children aged between six and 12 now want an iPad for Christmas and 36% want an iPad mini.

As evidenced by my own iPad-fluent three-year-old, we now have a next generation of children unfamiliar with a laptop, desktop or physical keyboard, but ‘native’ to finger-friendly devices. New habits will form and consumer brands had better be ready to embrace currently unimagined ways to engage with these mobile-literate customers.

While some of us are changing entrenched habits to adapt to mCommerce, younger shoppers think nothing of doing pretty much everything with their smartphones and tablets.

So, as we have been advising our clients for some time, when it comes to brand strategy, identity and interface design, it’s time to re-imagine brands, the user interface and the digital brand experience. It now has to be mobile first, PC second.

In this rapidly evolving mobile-first world, consumer brands and retailers need to get their acts together fast before those that already understand the Mobile-era – namely Apple, Google, eBay, Facebook, Amazon and new disruptors – make shopping in their walled mobile gardens sticky second nature.

I also fully expect these mega brands to widen their grip by developing, for instance, their own payment platforms and even currencies (eBay already has PayPal) in the form of proprietary digital wallets.

Once some of your money is with them, it’ll be more difficult to spend it outside their highly convenient eco-system, or if you do, they (and not the banks or credit card companies) will be taking a slice of the financial action.

That business is likely to be lucrative, which is why a few years back we put our money where our mouth is and created and invested in our own next generation payments platform, sQuid.

Plenty to think about, then. And plenty to do to ensure your brand isn’t compromised by - or even a casualty of - the rapidly evolving Mobile era.

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