The mobile phone has always been a social device. When I last checked, it's main purpose was to communicate with others. Mobile phones are the real social network, before Twitter, Facebook and instagram.
The recent, and seemingly unstoppable, rise of the smartphone has created a vast army of mobile internet addicts. This mobile revolution is self-taught. We're all taking learned behaviours and preferences from our PCs & Macs and applying them to our mobile devices.
Such has been the pace of development and appetite that the networks are struggling to keep the data flowing and brands are playing catch-up. It's user initiated search and social networking that's driving mobile web usage. Google, Facebook and Twitter are all seeing their fastest growth coming from mobile. In the EU Twitter saw mobile usage grow by 101% in 2011 compared to 66% via computers. In the same period Facebook grew its audience by 52% on mobile compared to just 9% growth from computers.
Clearly mobile is an inherently social device, and hence the social networks are now seeing how hugely important the mobile channel is to their business models, with users accessing them wherever and whenever they want.
Users see mobile social and mobile web as one in the same. Unfortunately, from a technical and experience point of view, they are not. They need a specific content and technical approach, web version of social network experiences don't translate seamlessly to mobile. And not catering specifically for these users isn't just lazy – it's bad for users and ultimately bad for business.
So now that we've established that social is mobile and mobile is social, the question is where will it head next? According to the trendwatching researchers consumers will look to their mobile devices to maximize absolutely every moment in 2013. Hectic lifestyles mean that no amount of time will be too fleeting, or activity too absorbing, to cram in more content, connection, or consumption.
All of which means the next 12 months will see an explosion in mobile moments or perhaps new strain of mobile ADHD for the pedestrian cynics amongst us. The stats below do lend some weight to the claim, so keep your eyes peeled for a deluge of quick hit apps coming to mobile device near you.
- A survey of US adult smartphone owners found that 63% of female respondents and 73% of male respondents don't go an hour without checking their phone (Source: Harris Interactive, June 2012).
- Mobile users between 18 and 24 exchange an average of 109.5 messages on an average day, more than 3,200 per month (Source: Pew Research Centre, September 2012).
An academic study of Android users' app-habits revealed that while users spend nearly one hour on their devices a day, the average app session lasted only just over a minute (Source: DFKI, November 2011).