If you’ve been paying attention over the last decade, you know the communications landscape has completely shifted from a world of land-lines and busy-signals to one completely dominated by cellphones and the internet. Mobile usage has become such a way of life in the States that many experts claim we might even be addicted to our cellphones, reporting that 73% of Americans would panic if they lost their phones. What’s behind the our inundation with mobile devices, and what does it mean for American businesses?
Mobile for Every Girl and Boy
As mobile phones evolved from bulky contraptions the size of walkie-talkies to powerful handheld devices that can fit in your back pocket, they have completely taken the world by storm. The most recently available statistics show that 91% of all Americans have a cellphone, with at least 60% having a smartphone.
Smartphones, more than any other device, are driving mobile consumption in a way few could have predicted just a few years ago. While people still make phone calls, it seems that every year brings with it more mobile users who eschew voice-to-voice communication in favor of text messages and e-mails sent from their phones. The average American sends 67 texts per day.
Current Mobile Trends
While this shift in communications format is staggering, the fact that an increasing number of people are using their phones for leisure instead of communication is particularly interesting, especially to makers mobile apps. In a single fiscal quarter in 2013, Facebook earned $213 million in revenue through its users playing games on the social media behemoth. Overall, app usage on cell phones increased by 115% in 2013; game usage spiked by 66%.
Despite mobile gaming’s meteoric rise in popularity, the true winners of the mobile app race are social media platforms and productivity tools. The former saw usage increase by 203%, with the latter earning a 149% spike in usage. While mobile usage warrants its own in-depth study, it doesn’t take a lengthy research paper to see that all of this adds-up to a world where desktop computing is increasingly outdated and redundant.
Mobile Providers Have Taken Notice
The world’s ever-increasing adoption of mobile doesn’t just affect social media corporations or software engineers. As the market has shifted and grown, so, too, have service providers had to evolve to keep up with the times. T-Mobile, for example, has cut mandates requiring customers wait for the full two-years to elapse before they can upgrade their phones, ensuring they can access the latest and greatest hardware and applications whenever they want.
Solavei, a newer, smaller service provider, popped-up in 2012 to offer American mobile fans a smarter, cheaper way to game, text, and hop online using their favorite devices. The company offers service for as low as $49 per month, access to all of the newest phones on the market, and the ability for users to earn money by recruiting others. Within a year, the service had signed-up 250,000 users, earning approximately $67 million in revenue.
The point proven by the success of Solavei’s unique service and T-Mobile’s new way of doing things is simple: mobile providers need to change with the technology, not stand as bulwarks against inevitable technological innovation. Just as web marketers should see the opportunity in a more app-obsessed mobile world, so should service providers see the advantages this brave new world offers.