One of the most discussed areas in the digital world is mobile. I’d put the fuss about it right up there with conversations about how Twitter is going to make money or if Facebook is going to crowdsource its Terms of Service.
The mobile conversations tend to center around when mobile ads, and mobile video especially, are going to take off. It’s always around the corner. Well, I think that time has come but maybe not for the reasons you expect.The mobile video market continues to grow, with The Nielsen Company reporting 24% annual growth in subscriptions to mobile video. There is a new study out by InStat that talks about this growth:
“Strong demand is being driven by device manufacturers leveraging open OS device to re-invent the mobile phone experience,” says Frank Dickson, Vice President, Mobile Internet Group. “New and prospective smartphone buyers are drawn to new mobile applications, even though the median number of applications downloaded for all platforms, including the Apple iPhone, is relatively modest—below five applications per user for each platform.”
Many people attribute this to the iPhone and I do, in part, as well. The new generation of smartphone such as the Blackberry Bold change the nature of mobile from that of an enhanced telephone to that of a hand held wireless device with voice capabilities. Web use, search, email, and most of the other functionalities we expect of our laptops or desktops are now readily available. But that’s not really the secret ingredient that has helped mobile usage, especially video, take off, in my opinion.
You want to know why, according to Nielsen, the typical 12-17 year old watches over 6 hours (!!) a month of mobile video – almost triple the time they spend watching video on the web? Because they aren’t bankrupting their parents to do so any more. Yep. That’s the secret sauce. You can’t buy an iPhone or a Bold without an unlimited data plan. There is no longer a reason to worry about watching a lot of video or using the mobile web – it’s all you can eat. One might think that’s the tail wagging the dog, but that very simple change in rate plans has dramatically changed this market. What took them so long? More importantly, what are the mobile operators learning and what enhancements can they make next that will drive usage and growth? Stay tuned!