” Everyone will soon have a smartphone, ” said Eric Schimdt (the president of Google) a few years ago. But his statements earlier this year were much more explicit: ” the trend was that the mobile was winning, it has now won ” ( Eric Schmidt makes 2014 predictions, says mobile has won ). Understand that the debate over whether mobile devices are more important than computers is behind us. To be exact, the tipping point took place in 2011.
It sold nearly 1 billion smartphones in 2013: 1,000,000,000 smartphones, and we do not even count the tablets! ( Smartphone sales may have topped 1 trillion in 2013 ). In less than 5 years, mobile devices have become the majority, a historical record in the pace of adoption, dethroning the couple Windows / Intel.
Ultra-fast growth boosted by Asian markets and not likely to slow with demand from South American and African markets. The advent of mobile devices is not a phenomenon to be taken lightly, as it is redefining access to information and the computer tool itself: Postmodern computing.
I imagine that you already knew these figures, but I think it is important to come back to measure the extent of the phenomenon.
The smartphone is the remote control of our everyday
Even if the penetration rate of smartphones remains less than half of the French population, we really feel that smartphones are everywhere. Imagine what it will be in two years when the market share reaches 75% (a barely optimistic projection). Already in 2011, I analyzed the growing importance of smartphones in our daily lives, and this place has only increased. I love the analogy that says smartphones are the stuff of adults: always at hand, thanks to smartphones we stay in touch with our family and friends, we are omniscient and omnipotent.
Our addiction to mobile devices is such that sociologists have also identified many behavioral drifts : sleep disorder ( Six in 10 Brits now sleep deprived because of smartphones and computers ), anguish related to the loss of his phone ( Nomophobia, the evil of the 21st century ), fear of missing something ( Do you have FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out? ), fashion of the selfies … Worse: the addiction to smartphones increases from year to year ( The Rise of the Mobile Addict ).
You suspect that such a phenomenon will not be without consequences for advertisers and online service providers. These months I have spotted a number of strong signals:
- The strategic reorientation of web giants to mobile devices like Yahoo or Facebook ( Yahoo is a mobile-first company and Facebook Passes 1B Mobile Users );
- The launch of mobile device offerings by major publishers ( IBM’s French R & D is paving the way for their new mobile-focused business and Microsoft Launches Enterprise Mobility Suite );
- The success of mobile communication applications ( WhatsApp passes 500 million active users, says over 700 million photos and 100 million videos are shared daily );
- Retraining of online portals or services ( CNN Digital Posts Best Year Ever, Dominates Mobile and Mail.ru launches an email service only accessible from a smartphone );
- The redesign of mobile-first information sites like Time or Eurosport …
In short, I have the impression that everything is now revolving around the mobile. It is not a coincidence that the vast majority of statups bought by Facebook are mobile applications. Why such an interest? Because smartphones make almost the same services as a computer (access to information and services, entertainment …) but keep in the pocket, are always on / connected and allow a high level of customization.
A distorted Western vision of reality
The mobiles have thus conquered the planet. Yes, but obviously not everyone has realized it yet. The majority of people I meet in my day-to-day work still consider mobile as an additional activity, a complement of the web. The discussions that I can have with them are often addressed by a ” we have a mobile application in preparation “. Yes and then, I already spoke on this subject two years ago and the situation has not changed: mobile applications only postpone the deadline ( Why to launch a mobile application is useless ).
Certainly, there is this famous diagram that we go out all the sauces to justify the use of mobile applications: Apps Solidify Leadership Six Years into the Mobile Revolution.
The problem with this scheme is that it is misleading: 2/3 of mobile users are games, social applications and communication and Youtube (which is installed by default on smartphones). Is it really relevant to compare the time spent on a browser with that spent on Angry Birds or Snapchat? It’s like you’re saying, “Business users use Outlook for 99% of the time their computer is turned on, so we do not need a website, just a newsletter .” As I have had many opportunities to repeat: mobile apps are a fantasy. Would you consider developing PC software for your online store or website? No, because you would find it absurd to have to force your visitors to download, install and set up your software. For smartphones it’s the same thing: the whole point of a mobile application is to offer a quality experience in a context of intensive use: a game, social network or communication tools that we will consult several once a day on the run (as soon as you have 3 minutes to lose).
The reality is that only a minority of publishers can justify the use of a mobile application: eBay, Private Sales, Voyages SNCF … For others, the commitment to the brand is far too weak to justify the use of an application. Whenever I discuss the subject on my blogs, I get a rush of developers who tell me that users want fast and efficient mobile applications. I doubt that mobile users are openly expressing the desire to install a native application: what they want is to buy shoes, check an opening time, compare prices … no matter how they manage, It’s important to get there with the least amount of complication (see Mobile apps cost too much, bet on the web instead ).
Rest assured, the purpose of this article is not to relaunch the debate on application vs. mobile site, but rather to make you realize that we Westerners, have a distorted view of reality because a very large majority of our homes have a computer and an ADSL connection. In other parts of the world, mobile devices are the only way to access the internet or even the only means of empowerment (especially for women in Africa). As a result of this distorted view, there is a clear lack of discernment by advertisers and content editors / online services who devote a still largely insufficient budget to “mobile” operations. The gap between the budgets allocated to traditional media, the web, and mobile terminals are enormous and especially completely out of sync with the reality of uses and the time spent on each of these media. by demonstrating more pragmatism, much more needs to be done to invest in the mobile devices that are at the heart of consumer life, not the television or the press that are now on the periphery (see What’s next for television on time? P2P and SoLoMo? ).
In fact, what we really need is a complete re-education around mobility. 10 years of frenetic growth and forced innovation have left advertisers and publishers confused about what mobile internet really is. I had already addressed the subject 7 years ago ( Do not confuse more mobile internet and internet mobility ), but I think it’s time to review my speech and be much more explicit.
Mobile is dead
Matias Duarte, the head of design in the Android team said this surprising phrase in a recent interview: Matias Duarte, Head of Android Design on the Death of Mobile. His explanation cannot be fairer: the “mobile” Internet no longer exists to the extent that we can not really make the distinction with the “normal” Internet. Smartphones have made such progress and publishers have made such changes that we now access any content or service online with his computer, his smartphone or tablet. The mobile dimension is obsolete because mobile devices are ubiquitous in our daily habits and reflexes.
This statement is perfectly consistent with the advent of the multichannel consumer: it makes fun of the difficulties for a distribution chain to operate different channels simultaneously (from a computer or logistical point of view), for him, it’s the same thing. From this observation, everything must be reviewed in the way of understanding the behavior of users, their needs, the way offers are promoted and sold, and in the relationship that will settle with the brand. The idea is not to turn everything around mobile devices, but rather to integrate them into all stages of the customer lifecycle.
The most important steps, in my opinion, are those of need recognition and information retrieval: during these stages, a prospect will become aware of a need (a new pair of shoes, an outing, a vacation …) and immediately start to inquire. For that, he will use the terminal he has on hand: his smartphone. The problem is that it is in the preliminary research phase (it informs itself informally), so it is certainly not motivated enough to install the mobile applications of all the brands or services it will use. If you are not present in good conditions during this step, it is unlikely that this user will think of you when he will intensify his searches later on his computer. So yes, indeed, we do not buy on a smartphone, however, we get information and possibly compare prices. Brands and publishers of services that do not offer a mobile version of their site are thus removed from the first stages of the purchase cycle. That’s what a mobile-friendly website is all about: staying in the running. Developing a mobile app will not help you achieve this unless you call yourself Amazon and your spontaneous awareness rate is close to 100%.
All this to say that mobility is an ultra-hot issue around which many myths and misconceptions persist. It is high time that brands and advertisers remove their blinders and really get involved in a process of transformation of their communication, sales tools, distribution channels, internal processes … I am finalizing the writing of a book to this subject. I’ve already written 2/3, it should be released next month. I also say that my blogs will undergo a radical transformation to adopt a mobile approach first (it’s the least of things after all that I just told).