Blog Post: Mobile is now the First screen!

phone-walletMobile is now the First Screen…
By R. Reid

I think it’s fair to say that we’ve all had a good time poking fun at the question of when will mobile finally arrive as a medium and platform to take seriously (hmmm….2013 anyone?). But it appears the joke may have been on us.

While we were all questioning when that future may arrive, it seems to have slipped right past us, like a meteor coming at us during daylight hours because we were all too busy looking for them at night. The recent meteor experience is leading to a paradigm shift in thinking about how our sky’s are monitored and mirrors a shift all marketers must undergo, before we miss the opportunity to see that something monumental has occurred.

Mobile is about to become the First screen. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at some statistics:

  • Smartphone sales are now bigger than PC sales
  • People buy more than one iPad per household
  • Tablet sales will pass notebook sales this year
  • The average person spends 127 minutes/day on mobile apps (US Web vs. Mobile Apps vs. TV Consumption)
  • The global user base for smartphones surpassed one billion for the first time at the end of third quarter of 2012
  • From the end of Q3 2011 to the end of Q3 2012, the global smartphone user base grew an average of 27.5 million users per month
  • The penetration of smartphone has reached near saturation in North America and Western Europe
  • 70% of tablet owners only use their tablets at home
  • Tablets generated 2.4 times more traffic than the average smartphone
  • Mobile video grew 50% in 2012 and made up nearly 51% of mobile traffic
  • 85% of smartphone users reported second screen-linked behavior at least once a month
  • Over 80% of 18-24 year olds used their phone while watching TV
  • 60% of smartphone use occurs at home, while 40% occurs out of the home

And because I love graphics, here are a few to punctuate the stats even more:



But statistics only tell half the story, the evidence is even more pragmatic than any of these statistics reveal. This change became real to me recently when I realized that for the majority of my waking hours, I spend more than 90% of my time with one or multiple mobile devices (non-laptop) either in isolation or in combination with another activity (watching television, running, eating, etc). The significance of this realization wasn’t that I was unaware that I always had a mobile device at hand, but why wasn’t I thinking that since this was my behaviour why were we not focusing on it as the primary medium and platform to reach consumers? What is interesting, is that we are aware of this behaviour but seem to ignore it. We still think of television as the primary medium of choice because it was the way we built brands.

Now, before you think that I’m saying that television is dead or something silly like that, this is far from the truth. In fact television viewership in 2012 increased in the US according to Nielsen. Television is and will remain the best medium for story-telling, building brands, and connecting with consumers. But as we move to a world where the medium (ie. – boxes) no longer defines the experience, we need to similarly think of new ways to leverage the capabilities of the old mediums. We need to embrace the behaviour enabled by that of new mediums and the ubiquity of content consumption now enabled by always-on connected devices.

Mobile is not the past, present, or future…mobile is the now. It is increasing the first, most frequent, and last screen we interact with on a daily basis. There is a tremendous opportunity available to build new platforms for engaging and delivering value to consumers rather than simply porting a means of advertising from a old medium onto a new one. Banners may have worked for desktop advertising (increasingly debatable) but are proving to be even less effective on mobile devices. Let’s not allow ourselves to think that because we have always looked at something one way, that this view will always serve our needs in the future. We may miss the opportunity to build something that helps us overcome the limitations of the past and build a great new future for all.

Mobile Stat Pack:

The Death of the PC: A Full Report From Business Insider

The Mobile Industry Matured in 2012

A Billion Smartphones

Global Smartphone OS Shipments

Mobile Consumer Behavior Trends

Mobile Devices will Outnumber People by the end of the year

Why the Second Screen Industry is set to Explode

34 Enlightening Statistics Marketers Should Know about Mult-Screen Usage

Categories: Blog


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