Is 2011 actually the year of the mobile?

January 31, 2011

Each year, digital pundits have predicted that this year will be the year of the mobile. Yet, despite this hype and the excitement it generates – the year of the mobile has yet to materalise. So could 2011, be that year?


The reasons for this optimism of mobiles as “the next big thing” is that smartphones are becoming more ubiquitous and many of us are becoming less reliant on a fixed screen. Mobile penetration has reached near universal levels in the US and Western Europe, while emerging markets such as China and India are adding millions of subscribers every month.

But the real breakthrough for mobile’s has been the successful uptake of apps. Apps as a medium provide an unparalleled means for reaching consumers with relevant and useful engagement. Downloads are predicted to increase to 17.7bn in 2011 from 8.2bn in 2010 and the revenue from app stores worldwide is forecasted to increase a staggering 190% from 2010. But will these statistics actually transpire into mobile as a mass medium?

According to Peter Sells, what the rise of mobiles reveals about human nature is that we are lazy. Convenience is the biggest driver of human progress and mobiles have the potential to be the biggest transformative technology that any of us is likely to experience in our lifetimes. The mobile is and will be the ultimate expression of the instinct for human laziness. And thus, it seems to me that understanding human motivation will be key to the development and advancement of the mobile.

This is potentially the reason why apps have been the key driver in the success of mobiles.  Apps add value to people’s lives. They not only provide engagement, but useful engagement. So if brands can aspire to create apps that fulfill fundamental human needs, then 2011 may and i stress may be the year of the mobile.

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