You only need to take a look at the business pages – or just glance at the people around you – to see just how important mobile is to our everyday lives. Our smartphones and tablets now drive everything from how we shop to what we consume and how we work. They’re our sidekicks, our confidantes – our second brains.
In fact, our devices are so closely linked to so many aspects of our lives that it’s hard to understand why every business isn’t ‘mobile first’. But as anyone who’s struggled to use a company website on their tablet will know, it isn’t always the case. So if your business hasn’t yet grasped the full scale of the mobile revolution, here are a few facts that could help you persuade the powers that be.
1. Mobiles are still making waves
Seven years after the launch of the first truly mainstream smartphone, Apple’s iPhone, big launches are still big news. The recent launch of the iPhone 6 and its ‘phablet’ brother, the 6 Plus, saw queues outside Apple Stores around the world. And when there were rumours that phones could bend in users’ back pockets, they went viral in moments. There aren’t many consumer products so firmly embedded in global culture.
2. The rise of the East.
While high-end phones like the iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy series make the headlines, in many ways it’s the march of the Chinese makers that puts the mobile revolution into perspective. As well as Lenovo, the Chinese brand that bought IBM’s PC division almost a decade ago, there are many less familiar names to western ears – ZTE, Huawei, Xiaomi and more – that are growing almost unbelievably fast. Xiaomi , for example, is already the fifth biggest mobile manufacturer in the world. It sold 15.1 million smartphones in the first quarter of 2014 alone – and it hasn’t really expanded outside China. Yet.
3. In Africa it isn’t a mobile. It’s just a phone.
Back in 1995 the Economist told us that half the world’s population had never made a phone call. Back then, of course, a phone pretty much meant a landline – which meant a complicated infrastructure network of cables, poles, exchanges and all the rest of it. That’s not true any more.
The relatively cheap, relatively simple to maintain nature of cellular networks means they’re spreading rapidly across the developing world – and they’re helping even the poorest people in the world get access to information that helps them learn, do business and stay in touch – to be true Digital Natives. In Rwanda, for example, the government has recently signed an agreement to deliver 4G LTE connectivity to 95% of the population – more than in many European countries.
4. A PC on every desk? That was just the start.
Though the buzz about the ‘post-PC age’ might have been a little overblown, one thing is certain: there are now three times as many connected mobile devices as there are PCs in the world. A recent Comscore report says that 60% of internet traffic is now from mobile devices – and 50% of that is from dedicated apps. Over a billion smartphones shipped in 2013 around the world. And if you’re not on those screens, you’re missing out.
5. Everyone else is mobile. Why not you?
Even tech behemoths like Microsoft and HP, whose businesses were built on the traditional tethered PC, now get it. With slogans like “Mobilize your enterprise”, HP is staking a claim to be a partner in the mobile revolution. And Microsoft recently did something that was previously inconceivable – they launched a version of Office that wasn’t just for the rival iPad platform, it was free. If they can do that, almost anything is possible in the mobile world.
For any business, ‘mobile first’ is now the only strategy to have. And not just for businesses focusing on a younger audience: half of people aged over 55 in the US now have a smartphone too.
So if you don’t have a mobile strategy, the time to start (and finish) creating one is now. It’s a question of survival.