Welcome to the smartphone society – onwards to ubiquitous mobility

According to Ofcom research, smartphones are now the most popular device for getting online in the UK, reason for the communications regulator to call the UK a smartphone society.

The list of countries where smartphones take over the usage of laptops as the number one device to access the internet is growing. More importantly, the behavioural impact of smartphone usage is a radical game changer for consumers, brands and marketers. As Chay Mondejar-Saputil, general manager of Wunderman in the Philippines put it in a post, offering a glimpse in yet another region, it’s a mobile world after all and brands need to get moving.

The mobile game and behaviour changer

If you recently took a well-deserved holiday or went on a business trip by plane you might have noticed that amazing behavioural effect once again. Checking in and waiting for boarding: smartphone. Plane is hardly landed: up come the smartphones. Saying we landed, checking in with a location-based app, waiting for our luggage, sharing a first picture, in the taxi (potentially booked via mobile), arriving at the hotel: you know how it is. Unless we see a vacation as time for a ‘digital detox’, chance is even high we wanted a hotel with WiFi and it’s the first question we ask at the reception desk, often before getting our room number. The smartphone (or tablet or laptop) needs access and so do we – anytime, anywhere, for whatever reason.

Smartphones have indeed become a key instrument in our lives in the smartphone society. Ofcom even calls them ‘the hubs of our daily lives”. We use these digital Swiss knives for so many activities and purposes – including just killing time – that they are among the most behaviour-changing devices we’ve ever had.

According to the Ofcom research, people in the UK now spend almost two hours daily online with their smartphone. That’s 45 minutes more than on their laptop.

Time spent online on smartphones versus laptops and PC - source Ofcom

Time spent online on smartphones versus laptops and PC – source Ofcom

2015: past the tipping point of the smartphone society

Ofcom says the rise in smartphone surfing marks a clear shift since 2014, when just 22% turned to their phone first and 40% still preferred their laptop. Now it’s respectively 33% and 30%. That’s what we call a dramatic shift, in just one year….

2014 was a smartphone turning point in others regions too. For the first time ever U.S. users spent the majority of their time consuming digital media within mobile applications. And, along with mobile web usage, mobile usage overall (apps included) accounted for 60% of digital media consumption.

Earlier this Summer, Danyl Bosomworth (co-founder of SmartInsights) posted a bunch of mobile marketing statistics for 2015, referring to the above mentioned tipping point in the U.S. and including more data, charts and research, leaving little room for interpretation. Do check them out to get more insights into mobile media time and much more.

Mobile users versus desktop users - comScore via SmartInsights

Mobile users versus desktop users – comScore via SmartInsights

The Ofcom report further looks at the impact of mobile (smartphone and tablet) on time spent online, TV viewing habits, consumer behaviour and activities performed on smartphone. It also shows some data on the differences in activities between smartphone users with 4G and ‘the others’. It’s probably not a surprise 4G users do more online but the numbers are pretty interesting, certainly regarding shopping, banking and TV/video consumption.

Getting ready for the age of ubiquitous mobility

Tackling all the effects of the smartphone society – and pretty soon the ‘everything smart and mobile’ society – on our behaviour and on the ways we conduct business, do marketing, advertise and interact in one single blog post obviously is impossible. Just look at how much there is to be said about mobile commerce and fashion, for instance.

Hopefully this little overview of research and additional resources provides you with some stats ‘to understand how consumers behave when using different types of mobile devices and what their preferences are’, to quote Danyl Bosomworth, who also reminds us “it’s no longer a case of asking whether mobile marketing important, we know it is”. We sure do.

If we can believe Google (or should we say Alphabet now?), mobile is even ten times more valuable than marketers think.

And the truth of the matter is there is still a lot to improve and optimise for the rising era of ubiquitous mobility. Plenty of food for future blog posts!