The Rise Of The Smartphone
Last week my Blackberry died – and I wasn’t the only one to suffer such a fate. On Tuesday 11th October, Research in Motion (RIM) services failed hundreds of thousands of Blackberry users around the world. The outage, which lasted up to 3 days for some users (1 day for me!), sparked furious outbursts on social networks and left many questioning their faith in their beloved Blackberry.
Meanwhile, in gleaming white Apple stores the iPhone4s was launched. The recent passing of Apple’s iconic leader Steve Jobs has made this product release even more poignant, with some fans even camping outside Apple stores for up to 10 days in advance of the phone becoming available. As the smartphone infiltrates our lives on an ever increasing scale, I want to look at the rise of the mobile and what it means for business.
Nowadays smartphones are everywhere. Ofcom, the British telecommunications regulator, states that 1 in 4 adults now own a smartphone. Rising incomes and falling costs of gadgets have led this revolution in phones. In recent years, internet speed has dramatically improved and broadband has become readily accessible. We have also seen the meteoric rise of influential companies which have revolutionised the face of the internet, Google and Amazon to name a few. However it’s the adoption of the smartphone in emerging markets around the world which really indicate its power.
With greater connectivity than ever, our expectations have become higher about what technology can do for us in our personal lives. We rely on the web more than ever before. We shop online, we bank online, we connect with others online. The difference now is that we have flexibility, we no longer have to be sat at a desktop computer to do these things. The opportunities are at the ends of our fingertips as mobiles and tablets come to dominate the gadget industry.
What we are witnessing right now a power shift away from desktop computers towards smartphones and tablets. Morgan and Stanley predict that this year, the shipments of smartphones and tablets will overtake that of PCs. With every one in four internet minutes conducted from a mobile the opportunities for business are huge. It’s predicted that m-commerce (that’s to say Mobile Commerce) will be worth $119billion in 2015. At present, 79% of British businesses don’t have a mobile presence. If businesses want to succeed online in the future, it is now necessary that they have a multi-channel strategy for desktop users, mobile users and tablet users too.
How can brands maximise their mobile offering?
1. Make it local.
People use their mobile to search locations. “Where is the nearest Tesco?” for example. It’s important if you have a business location where customers can go that you optimise your location details for search.
2. Enhance user experience.
If users can buy from your website, make the experience as easy as possible for them. This includes reducing the number of clicks to get to the checkout and making the payment process secure and safe.
3. Create an app.
Brands can create apps for users to download. This is a good way for brands to control how their consumers interact with them. From a user’s point of view, a branded app is trustworthy and apps are popular because of their ease of use.
eBay are a brand that has successfully developed apps for the iPhone. The eBay mobile app allows users to shop and sell from anywhere and receive eBay update alerts via SMS which let them know when they have been outbid. Their Fashion app allows users to browse clothes, mix and match outfits on a virtual mannequin and purchase their favourite items. eBay recently announced that they plan to add image-recognition technology to all their apps which will allow shoppers to snap photos of things they like and eBay will then find similar items that they have for sale.