When Pete Townshend of The Who wrote “Goin’ Mobile,” he was talking about the freedom of the open road. But some 40 years later, his song could be the anthem for a new lifestyle built on the freedom offered by mobile devices.
Consider these figures, from a report by Silicon Valley analyst Mary Meeker:
- In just four years (2008-2012), worldwide revenue from mobile apps and advertising grew from less than $1 billion to nearly $20 billion.
- In 2011, worldwide unit sales of smartphones and tablets passed desktop and laptop PCs. By 2015, mobile devices will outsell PCs by more than 5-to-1.
- Later this year, the installed base of smartphones and tablets will pass PCs — meaning there will be more mobile devices than PCs in use around the world.
Yet the mobile revolution is in its infancy. Marketers are still figuring out the best ways to reach consumers on mobile devices, and companies haven’t yet devoted a significant share of spending to mobile marketing.
And they haven’t adjusted their thinking to take mobile fully into account. In the United States, consumers spend about 10 percent of their media time on mobile devices, yet advertisers spend only 1 percent of their ad budgets on mobile.
In contrast, print gets 7 percent of media users’ time, but advertisers spend 25 percent of their ad budgets on print. Those lopsided ratios are sure to shift in the coming years, and quickly. That’s bad news for print publications, many of which have already lost more than half of their ad revenue since the middle of the last decade.
Meeker goes on to present a fascinating look at today’s young people, a group she calls the “asset-light generation.” They prefer to live unencumbered in all aspects of their lives. They rent rather than buy; they’re more likely to forgo a car in favor of public transit; they get their news and music on mobile devices rather than on paper and CDs.
Marketers are still coming to grips with the growth in mobile. As with so many aspects of the digital revolution, the only certainty is that it’s all happening faster than anyone could have expected just a few years ago.
As Townshend put it:
“The world’s my home
When I’m mobile.”