This piece originally appeared in The Future of Mobile, an exclusive Analysys Mason publication for Mobile World Congress 2012.
Usage of mobile devices in the home increased significantly last year – partly because of the launch of tablets, but also because of improvements to the user experience of browsing, social networking and email delivered over smartphones. Analysys Mason’s Connected Consumer Survey indicates that mobile users claim to be using web, email and social networking services nearly twice as much on smartphones as the average for all handsets.1 About 93% of smartphone owners use their smartphones while at home, according to a study from Google.2
Figure 1: Mobile users’ usage of services and apps, by handset type [Source: Analysys Mason, 2012]1
1 Question “Which of the following services or devices do you currently use on a regular basis on a mobile phone (at least once within the past 3 months)?”; all respondents; n = 6803.
This trend is set to continue throughout 2012, and will spark the following strategic changes in the mobile industry.
- Smartphones will continue to replace the PC as a means of checking emails and social networking in the home. A report released in August 2011 by Ofcom, the UK’s telecoms regulator, indicated that 15% of adult smartphone users claimed to be using a computer less since having a smartphone.3 This cannibalisation also happens outside the home, where smartphones can easily replace mobile broadband for emails and web browsing. For example, the growth rate for the number of active mobile broadband SIMs was 2.6% on average among European countries in the third quarter of 2011, down from approximately 12% two years earlier.4 Service providers should accommodate this shift among their users by offering products tailored to smartphones. It is critical for all the top Internet destinations to provide an excellent user experience on mobile, particularly on high-end smartphones.
- Smartphones will interact with other home devices, such as the TV or Hi-Fi system, in a better, more-integrated manner. The social aspect of consuming content will drive most of the interaction. Start-up companies such as AdaptiveBlue (with its GetGlue service), Miso and zeebox, all of which provide mobile-based comment sharing platforms focusing on TV shows or films, will grow significantly. For example, BSkyB invested in a 10% equity stake in zeebox, in a deal worth GBP10 million (USD15 million). The mobile/home interaction paradigm is set to bring a new innovation platform to the application space. For instance, several companies have found a way to synchronise TV sets and smartphones such that the smartphone is aware of what is being watched on TV. This could have many applications – especially around advertising.
- Leading smartphone OS companies that also have strong interests in the TV industry, such as Apple, Google and Microsoft, will find a new battleground in the home in 2012. Apple is expected to launch a TV set in 2012, Google announced several partnerships with TV manufacturers and Microsoft is already present in this market thanks to the Xbox. Apple and Google are set to transform the TV industry in the same way they revolutionised the mobile market, primarily via software differentiation. The parallels that will run between the TV and mobile industry are set to emphasise interactivity between the two platforms. The impact and opportunities created by this small revolution will extend beyond the device space into the networks. Integrated operators will use the resulting new features as a differentiator or as an incentive to take up their top-tier packages.
1 See Analysys Mason’s Report The Connected Consumer Survey 2012.
2 Google (Mountain View, California, 2011), The Mobile Movement: Understanding Smartphone Users. Available at http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/insights/uploads/23600.pdf.
3 Ofcom (London, UK, 2011), Communications Market Report: UK. Available at http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/cmr/cmr11/UK_CMR_2011_FINAL.pdf.
4 See Analysys Mason’s Comment Mobile broadband connections in Europe: tablets have yet to make a noticeable impact.