Hard realities about the mobile web

Metaratings
20 May 2014
00:00
Article

Quantcast published its latest report on discovering content on mobile. According to the report apps dominate mobile content use. People use over 80% of their mobile time in apps. And apps drive also a lot of mobile browsing traffic, 24% of browsing traffic comes from apps. But only about 1,000 apps have more than 50,000 users, i.e. 0.1% of all apps. These numbers present hard realities about the mobile market.

I have divided mobile apps into three categories: 1) stand-alone apps, 2) apps that are a part of service packages, and 3) marketing apps. The first category especially consists of those apps that are independent businesses, e.g. mobile games and sport apps. The second category includes apps that are a part of online content services, finance and travel services that are available also in the web, and also physical services like Uber. And the last one is, for example, retail, cafeteria or utility apps that are not really integrated to the core business. Of course, some apps can fit into several categories and categories also overlap.

Mobile is becoming more important for all services, all the time. The role of tablets is growing even faster than smartphones. iPhone and iPad still lead mobile traffic, although there are far more Android devices. Now mobile stands for about 17% of all web traffic globally. Asia leads other continents in mobile traffic. This means mobile becomes important for all web services.

Mobile content traffic is highly unequally distributed. Top social media apps (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) and some content sites collect a significant amount of traffic. And a lot of traffic also comes from referrals from social media apps.

All this means that basically every company must now think through its mobile strategy. I also wrote earlier that mobile is entering all businesses, not only online business. If we think about the current mobile traffic distribution, it looks like mobile can be much bigger challenge for many companies than web services and presence. Many businesses have a risk that a few companies can dominate it, when the business enters the mobile era.

Mobile-only strategy for smaller companies and mobile newcomers can be the most difficult strategy to see a success in, if they don’t have something totally new and unique. It has been estimated that user acquisition price for a mobile app is now about $5. There can be much more opportunities for companies that can otherwise create a strong physical or online service and then expand also to mobile. Uber, Starbucks and some media companies and banks are good examples, how they have adapted mobile into an important part of their offering.

The mobile revolution is happening now, and it is happening really rapidly in emerging economies. Everyone who wants to be a part of this change must act now. Otherwise the outcome can be that mobile services will be even further dominated by a few companies globally, than mobile content is now.

Independent marketing type apps haven’t really worked. Mobile must be an integral part of the business, it cannot be left to a small development team or external digital agency, to create something fancy for mobile. My recommendation is to focus on mobile apps that are really integrated to the company’s online services and core business and how to get mobility to be a part of business concept.

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