The State of the Mobile Union

As we all breathe a sigh of relief that world did not end after Apple’s big launch event for its new iPhone(s), it’s an appropriate opportunity to look at the State of Mobile since the first iPhone was introduced back in January of 2007 (seems like a lifetime ago in mobile years).

The mobile revolution is upon us. To get a better idea of where we are from a mobile usage perspective, take a look at this incredibly depressing, yet accurate video that’s gone viral over the last few weeks.

Now that you are feeling down, here’s a positive spin: The world is now more connected, more informed and more productive than any time in human history.

Not since the printing press or the telephone or the TV or even the Internet has a technology so dramatically transformed the human race.

And a race it is indeed. For corporations like Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Samsung, the battle for mobile dominance has resulted in a plethora of amazing products and innovations that impact literally every second of many of our days.

Some amazing mobile facts:*

  • 4 out of 5 people own a mobile phone worldwide
  • 13 percent of all Internet traffic is from mobile phones
  • As of 2013, approximately 4.3 billion people will own a cellphone — and only 3 billion use a toothbrush
  • 91 percent of adults have their mobile phone within arms reach 24/7
  • 25 percent of U.S. adults use ONLY mobile devices to connect to the Internet
  • The mobile industry is worth $1.45 trillion
  • Last year’s Cyber Monday generated over $750 million in sales via mobile devices
  • There five times as many cellphones on the planet as there are personal computers


The list goes on. As a matter of fact, I found hundreds of amazing mobile facts in preparing this post — too many to list. But you get the idea.

Earlier this week, I read a very compelling stat on Business Insider that illustrates another aspect of mobile’s impact. Thanks to smartphones and tablets, people are using the Internet twice as much as they were just three years ago. The bulk of the usage increase has come from smartphones.

Mobile is the new norm. And what’s even more amazing is how far behind large organizations and brands are in responding.  To date only six percent of the Fortune 500 has a clearly defined mobile strategy. Six percent. This lag is due to a number of factors:

1) Speed

Large organizations and brands are not used to moving quickly.  Traditional media like TV, print and even Internet have been historically driven by corporations, who essentially drove the pace of innovation. However with mobile, innovation cycles that used to take a year now takes three months. Think of how may new phones, apps, operating systems, startups and media are introduced over a three month period.  The overwhelming challenges associated with keeping current on mobile website optimization, application management, device management, mobile messaging, mobile shopping etc., are too much to bear for organizations who are accustomed to growth-by-committee cultures and hyper-analysis of ROI models. This kind of thinking loses in the mobile age. That’s why smaller, more nimble brands appear to be more innovative in their messaging and communication delivery.

 2) Overconfidence

Billion-dollar brands have been lulled into a state of apathy due to their incredible market-share. Most of these large brands feel that they can wait until they get things right — or until their competitors make all of the important mistakes before they have to move. They may be right, but in the interim, younger and more valuable longer-term consumers are going to be enticed by the nimble brands that are quicker to speak in today’s mobile language.

3) Lack of Information

Despite its incredible growth and adoption, mobile is still very much a brand new media. Because it’s so new, there is still a great deal to be learned. With mobile, there are fewer “right” answers — and a great deal more experiments. Mobile is still an experimental medium for many. Large organizations tend to wait until they can prove success, or act with confidence before they make large investments. However there is a dearth of solid mobile strategic expertise in the market today, so many marketers are simply not informed enough to act.

So what can we do to make sense and take action in the face of this new communication paradigm?

1) Mobilize Your Content

If I was a marketer today, I’d start building a mobile ecosystem. While this can seem like a complex undertaking, a few strategic investments and some solid outside mobile expertise can move you ahead quickly. Make no mistake: building out your mobile web presence is a strategic move that will force your organization to start thinking “mobile first” — and possibly drive a great deal of discomfort, discord and debate.

Start simple. Look at your website on a mobile phone. Approach it like a consumer would. How is the experience? Look at competitor’s mobile sites — or look for examples of great mobile web experiences. There are a lot of great mobile web executions being deployed right now — learn from the winners: Starbucks, Coke, Macys — and start taking small but authoritative steps. Find a mobile expert who can guide you and advise you on this process — provide best practices, strategic oversight, etc.

2) Ask Your Constituents

Invest in some market research. Follow THEIR lead. In today’s mobile market, your consumers are the ones in charge anyway, so humbly ask and listen.

Guest blogger Warren Zenna

About Guest blogger Warren Zenna

Warren has over 17 years of Digital Marketing and Business Development experience, having worked at marketing luminaries such as Publicis Groupe, iCrossing, IMC2 and DigitalGrit. Warren now focuses mainly on Mobile Marketing and has more than 6 years of specialized experience in the mobile marketing space, including 3 years of immersion as the VP of Mobile Strategy at Publicis Groupe’s Phonevalley. Now running his own mobile marketing consultancy, Zenna Consulting Group, Warren advocates a “mobile-first” approach to digital. He works with large to medium sized brands that are eager to develop a clearly defined mobile strategy for their enterprise and consumer marketing efforts. Warren’s experience with complex mobile strategies for top brands includes Citibank, Microsoft, Pantone, Nestle, P&G, Novartis, AstraZeneca and Logitech. He speaks regularly at digital Marketing conferences, (App Nation, EmMeCon, Mobile Insider Summit), is regarded as a mobile marketing expert. He has been featured in industry publications including Ad: Tech’s Connect blog and

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>