Mobile devices have changed dramatically over the past decade and have revolutionized the way we communicate, learn, and shop. At times, it seems like an impossible task to know what to expect from the future. Despite the challenge, business owners need to have some idea of what changes are on the horizon. Here are some of the major trends business owners can expect to see from the mobile internet in 2014.
Mobile will continue to grow more important as the number of mobile devices continues to outpace the sell of PCs and laptops. In 2014, US smartphone penetration will probably hit 75 percent (up from 65 percent in 2013). Smartphone ownership could even exceed 80 percent of US adults.
“Mobile has won,” said Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt in an interview with Bloomberg.
The continued rise of the mobile internet will encourage marketers to find new ways to reach audiences on their mobile devices. Besides the traditional banner ads on apps, Facebook will grow in importance as it is the most used app on people’s phones. At the end of 2013, Facebook took the number two spot in US digital ad revenue due to an increase in mobile advertising.
Mobile advertising accounted for nearly half (49%) of the company’s second quarter revenue. According to eMarketer, Facebook’s improvement can be traced to the company’s “continued stellar mobile performance, with the potential to open up new inventory via Instagram as well as the announcement to include video ads in the newsfeed.”
Tablets will make gains in the amount of internet mobile time spent on these devices. Prices for smaller, 7-inch Android models, and to a lesser extent the iPad Mini, have made it easier for people to have a tablet in addition to a desktop or laptop and a smartphone. Continuing a trend from the past few years, 2014 should be the year when tablets overtake smartphones as the most popular device for shoppers. At the end of the 2013, Business Insider released a report with their estimates for tablet-based ecommerce sales. Among the key findings, the report notes that smartphones tend to be used in the middle of the shopping process, while ‘tablets are used both at the beginning for high-level research and at the end to finalize purchases.’ The report also notes that most retailers aren’t ready for tablet commerce. Most of tablet sites and landing pages are sub-standard, and according to some studies, consumers report being dissatisfied with their tablet shopping experiences.
Another trend that is likely to continue into 2014 is the growing disparity between the amount brought in from users on Apple products and those on Android devices. During the Christmas shopping season, iOS roundly beat Android in almost every metrics. iOS users spent five times as much as Android users. It goes beyond that. Apple users spent twice as much on average. And Apple users even shopped more. iOS users twice the overall web traffic of Android users. A good mobile site should be able to function on all devices, but business owners need to pay special attention to iOS-compatibility. If a proposed change to a site would hurt the experience for Apple user, this is not a change a company wants to make.
As a whole, it’s predicted that mobile spending will account for nearly $30 billion, or 11.4% of this year’s U.S. e-commerce spending. There is clearly a reason for small business owners to make sure their site is ready to take advantage of the new opportunities that the mobile internet will create in 2014. Businesses that are constantly reacting to changes in the mobile landscape rather than anticipating them put themselves at a disadvantage compared to business poised to hit the ground running.