Recently SEMPO released a white paper on the mobile market. The paper references data from comScore which shows tremendous growth (what a surprise!). The comScore data reveals that in May of 2009 more than 64.2 million in the US accessed the mobile Internet, a significant uptick from 36.8 million users from January of 2008, or a Neilsen study that showes 42.5 million users in July of 2008. This is a full 28% of US wireless subscribers, and 30% of all desktop Internet users.
Mobile advertising related to search is seeing some nice growth too. In the US, the Kelsey Group indicates that $39 million in mobile search advertising in 2009 is expected to grow to $2.3 billion in 2013. On reason for this, according to Noah Elkin, a Senior Analyst at eMarketer who is also on SEMPO’s Emerging Technologies Committee, is that mobile environments have higher click through rates due to less clutter and higher relevance. In addition, mobile searchers are often “in market” and closer to a decision point.
One of the factors helping drive this growth is the advent of the iPhone. The improved web browsing offered by the iPhone form factor has made the web much easier to access. This shows itself in the data presented in the SEMPO white paper as well, where iPhones represent about 20% of the smartphones available on the market, yet searches performed on iPhones represent 36.9% of all mobile searches.
My personal opinion is that at some point voice search becomes a big factor. According to Mr. Elkin voice based search is still a niche environment, because the quality is not high enough, and it is still too slow. Speech recognition algorithms do require a lot of processing power, and this is still not readily available in a smartphone. Over time it will become available though, and the notion of simply speaking your search command is pretty compelling.
What excites me about all this is that it represents yet another new frontier. There are many challenges ahead that need to be addressed, and people will need help with that. In addition, new brands will emerge from those that that capitalize on this new environment. If you missed the last gold rush, another one is underway. While pundits have been predicting the year of mobile to be next year many years, 2010 may finally be the year when it happens.
The white paper discusses a significant set of recommendations on what marketers should do to position themselves for the mobile environment. It is a challenging environment with many unique factors, including the lack of a consistent form factor or operating system. Check out the SEMPO paper to see how you can prepare to capitalize on this new emerging opportunity.