Business Technology

40 stats about mobile that every CEO should know

9 min read

16 April 2013

Much has changed in 40 years of the mobile phone and the sector won't stop evolving any time soon. Our advice: keep up! These 40 stats will bring you up to date with the mobile world.

The smartphone and the tablet are the irresistible forces of our age. Consumer behaviour is changing in front of our eyes. So, too, is working behaviour. You don’t run your business – let alone the rest of your life – without access to a mobile.

So how are you adapting your business?

You can make sense of the mobile revolution on 25 June 2013 where we’ll be assembling may of Britain’s smartest mobile people to talk about how your business can make the most of mobile. 

The big trend… 

You kind of knew this but the scale of change really is astonishing, so keep up. It’s been more than a decade (2002, actually) since the number of mobile subscriptions overtook the number of global fixed landlines. The number of landlines peaked in 2006. The number of mobile subscribers continues to soar.

Keep up! In India in May 2012, mobile internet usage overtook desktop internet usage.

No, really, keep up! By 2014, mobile internet should overtake desktop internet usage – globally.

Put another way, it’s been calculated by Cisco that last year’s mobile data traffic to be nearly 12 times the size of the entire global internet in 2000.

The mobile momentum will continue to accelerate in 2013 – and beyond

The simple facts: there will be more mobile devices and more subscribers and more traffic. Here comes the flood!

Today there are 1.1bn mobile 3G subscribers. But that is only 18 per cent of all mobile subscribers.

According to the analysts at Gartner, worldwide tablet shipments are forecast to amount to 197m units in 2013. That represents a 69.8 per cent increase from 2012 shipments of 116m units. That is a lot of tablets.

The world really is getting smarter. Also according to Gartner, of the 1.875bn mobile phones to be sold in 2013, 1bn units will be smartphones. That compares with 675m units in 2012. 

By 2017, there will be 8.6bn handheld or mobile-ready devices in use, reckon Cisco. And global mobile data traffic will have increased 13-fold.

Now, how do the big trends play out in the UK? 

The British are going smartphone mad. Correction: have gone smartphone mad. And tablet mad.

In the UK, the current number of smartphone users is estimated to be 24m – or nearly 38 per cent of the population. By 2016, that number is projected to rise to 41.9m – practically two-thirds of the population. So smartphones will be the rule, not the exception.

Almost half of all British teenagers now own a smartphone.

59 per cent of Britons have used their smartphone every day in the past seven days. And 78 per cent don’t leave home without their device. (It’s surprising that 22 per cent do.)

Over 6m Britons had a smartphone and a tablet in December 2012.

The UK downloaded approximately 275m apps in February 2013 alone.

According to comScore, nearly one-third of page views in the UK are from mobiles and tablets. The UK has the biggest proportion of 18-24 year old mobile users – 11.8 per cent, and the average time spent accessing the internet via a mobile browser in the UK is 9.5 hours per user per month.

200 SMS and MMS messages are sent per person per month in the UK.

Mobile fundamentally changes how we conduct business

For example, look at how the smartphone has become the essential shopping companion.

According to eConsultancy, 24 per cent of shoppers used mobile devices for Christmas shopping in 2012.

Google reckon that 64 per cent of Britons access the internet on their smartphones at least once a day.

And Google also estimates that one quarter of Britons intentionally have their smartphone with them to compare prices and inform themselves about products.

Two-thirds of British tablet owners have made a purchase from their device.

There’s a clear shift to mobile for last-minute queries for travel, hotels and accommodation. For example, in January 2013, 30 per cent of visits to Small Luxury Hotels’ website from the UK were from a mobile device. That’s 50 per cent more than the same period in 2012.

Mobile marketing is still modest compared to other forms of advertising

But so too was use of the internet not that very long ago. Is your website optimised for mobile?

Spending on mobile advertising in the UK has now crossed the half-billion pound mark, accounting for ten per cent of digital spend. Mobile advertising grew like-for-like to £526m in 2012 – from £203m in 2011.

In the last six months, 20 more of the UK’s top advertisers have produced mobile-optimised websites.

Mobile video advertising grew 1,601 per cent (yes, you read that correctly) in the past year: from £0.8m in 2011 to £13m in 2012. That’s before 4G really begins to kick in.

So every business has to know its relevant mobile search metrics

This will either give you an edge (for now) or ensure you stay in the game (because rest assured others will get very, very cute).

Recent analysis by the Direct Marketing Association showed that the number one search category for mobile users in the UK is news. But three out of ten people commonly search for local shopping information via their phones. And nearly the same percentage search for film and music.

According to a survey by xAd and Telmetrics, only 34 per cent of mobile searchers know exactly what they are looking for. In other words, good location-aware mobile advertisements could really make a difference (particularly if you own a restaurant). Because in the UK, two-thirds of users notice mobile ads – with 20 per cent clicking through.

Google research says that 37 per cent of Britons look for local information at least once a week on their smartphone – and 13 per cent look daily.

Mobile search shopping queries are two times more likely to be in store, says Google. And 55 per cent of conversions (store visit, phone call or purchase) happen within an hour of a mobile search. Actions happen quickly! 77 per cent of mobile searches are performed in a location where a PC is likely also to have been available.

One in three British iPhone users make a monthly purchase via their device.

The mobile phone is for calling people up, isn’t it? 

Yes, but…The mobile is also the ultimate business model disrupter

It’s money: 68 per cent of Kenyan adults report using a mobile phone for money transactions.

It’s a means of staying in touch. Duh. Facebook accounts for 23 per cent of the time people spend on smartphones, says founder Mark Zuckerberg.

It’s a medical device. It’s thought that 40 per cent of all apps in development have some form of healthcare context. In October 2012, more than 6,000 apps were classified as “health”, “Healthcare” or “medical.” Many apps now have the status of “medical device.”

It’s a camera. In the US, more than four out of five people use their mobile phones as a camera.