Here in the UK, Ofcom have published their ‘Communications Market Report’. While it’s of most use to us in the UK, the findings are probably just as applicable to other developed countries…
- Consumers’ use of mobile data more than doubled in the 18 months to January 2012
- Smartphone ownership rose to 39% of UK adults in Q1 2012 up 12% on 2011
- Tablet ownership rose to 11% of UK households
- The biggest claimed increase in communication methods used in the past two years among 16-24 year olds is social networking (31% net claimed increase), followed by text messaging (+ 23%) and instant messaging (+12%)
- The most common motivation for purchase of tablets is entertainment
- 87% of tablet owners say they mainly use it at home.
- Two-thirds of owners (66%) share tablets with family, friends and others.
What does all this mean for mobile developers? Smartphones have reached the point where a very large number of people are using them. I think this has several implications…
- Niche apps can become more viable. A small percentage of users is still a large number. Apps that failed to gain takeup a year or two ago might be viable now.
- A larger number of non-technical literate users are now using apps. We can’t assume people will work out how to use them. We need to keep them simple and easy to use.
- The entrenched platforms (iOS and Android) will probably dominate for some time now because it’s easier to attact new non-smartphone users to a new platform than it is to cause existing users to defect to a different platform (mainly due to the investment in learning how to use, investment in apps and stored personalisation - contacts, calendar etc).
What of the future? Well the rapid growth of tablets shows this is the next area that’s likely to reach the mass-market. If you are an entrepreneur in this area then you might think about entertainment apps as this is why tablets are being purchased. Think about tablet apps used in the home and how your app, on one tablet, can be used by multiple people.