Opportunity Swipes 1: Four mobile trends business can't afford to ignore


Mobile web usage is exploding, desktop is floundering

Mobile web usage is experiencing explosive growth. This trend is proven by the most important metrics we can measure: time & money. We are spending an increasing amount of time browsing and buying while on the go. Smart business recognizes this trend and capitalizes on it.

The paradigm of how people use the web is changing rapidly, but most businesses have failed to take advantage. There is remarkable opportunity for the business that creates an excellent mobile experience before their competitors can.

Trend #1 – Desktop market is being decimated by rapid growth of mobile device sales

It’s clear that smartphones are no longer just for the gadget geek. As of February 2011 worldwide sales of smartphones surpassed those of desktop and laptop computers combined. (Smartonline,  Feb 2012). These statistics don’t even factor in the rapidly expanding tablet market. (Asymco, Jan 2012).

Mobile device ownership

  • In the U.S. there are 84 million smartphone users (that’s 35% of all adults) (Pew Research, Jul 2011). 
  • In Canada, 40% of the 20 million or so people who own a mobile phone say that theirs is a smartphone (comScore, Nov 2011).
  • Euopean smartphone sales mirror this growth trend  (IDC, Sep 2011)

Apple Store Crowd

While mobile device sales are on the rise, desktop sales either remain consistent or are dropping, depending on the country and manufacturer. In Q4 2011 the U.S. saw the worst annual growth in desktop sales since 2001. (IDC, Jan 2012)

Despite waning popularity of the desktop, there are significantly more desktop computers in use today than there are mobile devices. The key for businesses is to address the current needs of desktop users -- which typically they do well -- while still staying ahead of the mobile curve.  It is clear that mobile usage is showing no signs of slowing, and to fail to consider a distinct mobile web strategy is unwise.

Trend #2 - Devices are becoming more capable and less expensive

Ruthless competition encourages innovation in high-end devices, features that migrate relatively quickly down the product scale into more affordable devices. Apple has proven that early adopters are very willing to pay for high-end features; but there is a trickle-down effect where advanced features are now appearing on lower-cost devices. Invariably, as new devices are released older versions drop in price allowing increasing the accessibility of mobile to a wider audience.  (Wired, Nov 2011)

So, as feature-laded smartphones migrate down the ladder, websites should be developed to cater to this market, without sacrificing quality or user-friendliness. Websites need to be optimized for mobile users and allow us to explore, work, shop and play on smartphone and tablets – easily, purposefully and with full interactivity.

Trend #3 – We’re using mobile for more then just email & games.

Vacation photo taken on smartphone

As smartphones become more capable, naturally we are more enamoured with them.  We spend countless hours and consume greater bandwidth reading, working, communicating, listening, shopping and playing on them. Projections show that the total number of people using the web on mobile devices is set to surpass desktops by 2015. (IDC, Sept 2011)

With desktop use slowing, it’s clear that people are using smartphones more and more for work (the typical last bastion of the desktop). Beyond simply a platform for email, smartphones are becoming all-round business tools. Companies do not want to play catch-up when mobile usage leap-frogs past desktop; forward-thinking companies are putting into place now unique web strategies and platforms to enable the mobile market to both work and play.  

  • US Smartphone Data Usage Rockets Within Past Year; Verizon Wireless Smartphone Data Usage Up 150% (Validas, Aug 2011)
  • Smartphones and Tablets Drive Nearly 7 Percent of Total U.S. Digital Traffic (comScore, Oct 2011)

Trend #4 - eCommerce on mobiles is on the rise

So you think the economy is in the dumps? Maybe so, but eCommerce stats are still rising and, when consumers are choosing to buy online, increasingly they are doing so from mobile devices.

  • Two out of every five smartphone users have used their mobile device to make a purchase (comScore, Dec 2011)
  • On tablets, users are significantly more likely to complete a purchase than on a PC: 4% to 5% on a tablet, versus 3% on a PC (Forrester)
  • Paypal, the world’s largest online payments company, reported a whopping 516% increase in purchases made through Paypal from mobile devices on Black Friday 2011 compared to 2010. (Read Write Web, Nov 2011).
  • An IBM survey showed that almost 15% of overall Black Friday purchases in the U.S. were made from a mobile device up from only 5.6% in 2010. (Core Metrics White Paper, Jan 2012), 
  • 46% of smartphone and tablet owners surveyed by Paypal said they planned to make their holiday purchases through their mobile devices.
  • By 2016, Forrester predicts that we’ll spend more than $31 billion via our mobile devices (Wall Street Journal, Sept 2011)

It’s clear that mobile is a major part of how people interact with the web, and it’s becoming more important every day. In part 2 of this we  explore some of the ways business can take advantage of these changing trends.


Nowadays, People are not purchasing mobile phone not only for calling but for use various purposes like the use of a desktop or laptop or tablet!! I think Mobile is the integral part of the internet where people will go through their mobile device. All world wide research centers like PEW reported that The usage of the mobile phone is increasing day by day at a rapid pace, on the other hand desktop users are dropping . So business strategies are also changing as well.
Business plan should be changed according to the change of the technology by which consumers will follow the internet.
Well explained logic, that's true and must be followed for best outputs to have a brilliant experience for future assistance



Aidan Foster

Responsive design expert & owner of Foster Interactive, a Drupal focused studio based in Toronto, Canada.

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Additional Info

In this blog series we review the evidence which strongly indicates the widespread growth & adoption of mobile devices.

In part 2 of this series we detail examples of how some forward-thinking business has capitalized on these trends.

Image Credits

istockphotos.com (photos)
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