Tech Trends: Mobile Media

2010 review & 2011 trends to watch

The number of mobile devices now surpasses the number of PC’s. 2 billion people connect to the internet; more than half connect through mobile devices. There are now 1.3 million apps on mobile devices, as compared to 10’s of thousands on PC’s. 2010 witnessed dynamic growth manifested in the mobile market.

“For many people, mobile media consumption has rapidly moved from an occasional activity, perhaps even a novelty, to an essential service they depend on every day while at home, work or on the move.” – comScore Mobile Year in Review.

The comScore 2010 Mobile Year in Review (MYiR) analyzes key trends across device usage, smartphone adoption and mobile media trends. 2010 saw the introduction of the iPad and other advanced devices, and with the introduction of the next generation of devices came more and more mobile content applications.

By the end of 2010:

  • Nearly half of US subscribers used mobile media to browse the web, run applications, access content, send text messages; this is an increase of 7.6% over 2009. This growth is attributed to smartphone and 3G/4G device adoption. It is also due to unlimited data plans which have been heavily promoted. Mobile media use in the big European markets increased 7% over last year3G penetration is up to 47.1% and smartphone up to 31.1%; there too unlimited data plans were on the rise.
  • Almost 1/3 of US mobile users have unlimited data plans, while only 8% do in the main European markets. Some US carriers moved away from the promotion of unlimited plans recently; it will be interesting to see how this affects growth of the mobile market or if consumers will accept less access.


The MYiR calls out the penetration of devices that have full web browsing capabilities, supporting HTML in addition to legacy mobile standards such as WAP as one of the most important trends. There are scores of different browser versions used on mobile handsets and more than a dozen vendors.

  • Smartphones topped the charts in 2010. 4 of the top 5 devices chosen in the US were smartphones and in Europe they 3 of the top 5.
  • Android is on the rise, Motorola’s Droid was the 5th most acquired device in the US in 2010.
  • The OEM market remains dynamic. 2010 US OEM market share is led by Samsun at 24.8%, LG at 20.9%, Motorola at 16.7%, and RIM at 8.5%; Apple achieved 6.8%.


The fastest growing segment of the smartphone market is teens! 13- to 17-year olds are leading growth in the US and European markets. The 18- to 24- year olds remain the largest segment of users. In terms of gender demographics, in the US women were 4% less likely to be mobile media users, and in Europe 15% less likely, in Japan use is roughly equal by the genders.

Mobile media usage has grown way beyond talking and texting. Consumers use the internet and various content applications by the end of 2010:

  • 46.7% of US
  • 41.1% of Europeans
  • over 50% of Japanese


The most growth over 2010 was seen in:

  • auction sites
  • shopping guides
  • online retail
  • Women’s magazine content


The leading content types are:

  • social networking
  • general reference
  • and television guides


Social media use is led by:

  • Facebook, reaching 90% of US and 85% European social media users
  • YouTube
  • Twitter


The most common mobile use includes:

  • game playing
  • searching
  • taking video
  • using maps


Games were the largest app content type over 2010, the number of people downloading a game increased by 52% in the US last year led by the free content choices which surpassed paid game content in early 2010.


  • Using mobile phones in person as a mobile wallet in place of credit cards is being pioneered in Japan. Nearly 10% of mobile subscribers in Japan had used their mobile wallet by the end of 2010.
  • In the US service providers have started using their mobile phones to accept credit card payments in person, emailing the receipt to the consumer.


“Mobile is clearly becoming a new way people shop … [eBay has] nearly triples mobile GMV (gross merchandise value) year-over-year to nearly $2 billion, with strong holiday shopping momentum in Q4. In 2011, we expect Mobile GMV to double to $4 billion.” John Donahoe, President & CEO eBay CQ4:10 Earnings Call

Mobile advertising

  • This is new territory and it is in a large growth mode, hitting 150% growth over the last two years.
  • The greatest challenge to this market segment is the fragmentation of mobile environments and metrics.


“(Mobile marketing) will serve to encourage loyalty through mobile couponing, activate all offline communications through QR codes, SMS or image recognition, enable commerce through mobile-optimized sites and applications, entertain through richer content and video offerings and drive traffic in-store through location-based services.” Brenna Hanly, mobile catalyst at Mullen.

2011 Trend Predictions

Beta Tales “Top mobile internet trends in 2011” slide presentation by Mary Meeker & Matt Murphy provides great data and trend information.

The scene is set with the current “Mobile Trends – Rapid Growth + Disruption”

  • Mobile platforms hit critical mass
  • Mobile is global
  • Social networking accelerating growth of mobile
  • Time shifting to mobile usage
  • Mobile advertising – growing pains, but huge promise
  • mCommerce – changing shopping behavior
  • Emergence of virtual goods and in-app commerce
  • Not all platforms are created equal
  • Change will accelerate, new players emerging rapidly


The presentation raps up with trends to watch: “Early Innings of a Massive Phenomenon”

  • Ubiquitous Computing – Real-time connectivity / 24 x 7 / in palm of hand
  • More Affordable – Device and data plan pricing falling
  • Faster – Networks and devices improving (owing to Moore’s Law)
  • Personal – Location / preferences / behavior
  • Fun to Use – Social / casual /reward-driven marketing
  • Access nearly everything anywhere – “Stuff” in cloud
  • Explosion of apps and monetization – More and making more money
  • Measurable real-world activation – Driving foot traffic to physical stores
  • Reward / Influence behavior in real-time – for exactly the right people


The Mobile Entertainment Forum released its Top Ten Mobile Media Trends for 2011:

  1. M-Commerce achieves scale
    Consumers will use their mobile device on a substantial scale to engage with retailers and brands for selecting purchases and completing transactions.
  2. Context over content
    Through the increasing use of enabling services (e.g. location & GPS), context will gain significant importance in the race to offer highly personalised services to drive long-term loyalty and user engagement.
  3. Privacy & security
    The use of personal information will come under increasing scrutiny in North America and Europe by law makers and regulators as consumer concern and lack of clarity on the usage of personal data grows.
  4. In-app billing under threat
    High profile cases of unclear in-app billing and high consumer bills will lead to government involvement and intervention, threatening the ‘freemium’ model in particular.
  5. Mobile social gaming
    Mobile social gaming will become the new dominant platform for casual gamers.
  6. Bandwidth issues continue
    As network operators look to build out increased capacity via LTE and 4G, the issue of network congestion will remain in the spotlight, with performance remaining a preoccupation for the entire mobile value chain. The debate over who should foot the bill for the provision of content will come to a head.
  7. Mobile vouchers & coupons
    Mobile vouchers and coupons which combine social media, in-app billing and location based services will be the biggest mobile commerce revenue source for 2011.
  8. Consumer expectations of value
    Consumers’ expectations of value for money will push down pricing for all forms of mobile content and services, but greater overall consumption will generate increasing revenues.
  9. Multi-platform
    2011 will see the mobile connected device become an integral element of the multi-platform experience for all forms of content and services.
  10. ‘Mobile First’ markets dominate
    Mobile content and services revenue in mobile first markets (where mobile usage is higher than desktop internet adoption) will exceed revenues in developed markets.


comScore 2010 Mobile Year in Review (February 2011)

Top mobile internet trends in 2011

MEF Releases its Top Ten Mobile Media Trends for 2011

Mobile to move into limelight this year: Mullen exec

Mobile Media Trends Forecast for 2011

Also interesting reading:

comScore 2010 US Digital Year in Review (February 2011)

Read other Tech Trend articles on Catch of the Day.

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