Guest Post on Mobile: ‘Separating the Signal from the Noise’

Mobile, mobile everywhere. News from the mobile space keeps coming as the technology and business of mobility continues to sort itself out. For PR pros, it’s an area rife with opportunity.

In today’s guest post, Jonathan Heit, partner and head of digital media and technology, Allison+Partners, takes a closer look at some of the big stories and trends in mobile moving forward.

Click through for his thoughts and click here for more on the firm’s Naked Culture blog. And if there’s anything you’d like to add to the conversation, the comments section is open.

Mobility Mythbusting by Jonathan Heit, partner and head of digital media and technology, Allison+Partners

As the holidays approach and travel beckons, it’s a good time to take a close look at the impact mobile is having on our businesses and what we can expect in the foreseeable future.

It’s impossible to deny the demands our “always on” lifestyles have created, from the proliferation of iPads and mobile hotspots to the consumerization of QR codes and other mobile marketing vehicles.  Separating the signal from the noise will be the key to not just success but your sanity.

Android wins the day

Much has been made of Android overtaking iOS in market share recently. While Android is certainly an amazing OS, it’s clear that this is driven not just by the diversity of offerings but the plentitude of free or low-cost options for Android smart phones vs. the static price point of the iPhone, which just this year introduced its first free offering.  The corollary is that those who opt for free or low-cost devices may be less likely to purchase expensive apps, so development costs should be considered.

Developers also still generally prefer to build for iPhone first, with 75 percent of mobile development projects started during the third quarter using iOS according to Flurry.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we are seeing strong growth in the freemium model, with in-app purchases now accounting for 72 percent of revenue among Apple app store titles, according to a Distimo study.  This up from just 28 percent in 2010.

Geolocation continues to take off

A Pew Internet Project report from this year noted that while 92 percent of smartphone owners use their device for text messaging, only 12 percent use a geo-social service like Foursquare or Gowalla, which was recently acquired by Facebook. According to Forrester, 70 percent of US online adults still do not know what a geo-social app even is, though that number is down from 84 percent in 2010.

Mobile Search is Big Business

While it is true that mobile is on track to contribute $2.5 billion to Google revenue, the advertising revenue is not keeping pace with the desktop dominance. It is clear that people simply use mobile search in different ways.

Many analysts doubt whether mobile search will ever catch desktop search.  While I don’t necessarily subscribe to that view, it is going to take more development and adoption of comparison shopping tools and the like before mobile dollars match up here, particularly with respect to ads.

Twitter is mobile, Facebook is desktop

It’s important to bear in mind that explosive growth in mobile usage, both domestically and internationally, holds incredible opportunity, particularly in the world of social networking.  While Twitter claims more than 50 percent of its traffic from mobile devices, and Facebook sees just one-third of all traffic from mobile as Mary Meeker showed at Web 2.0 recently, the sheer volume of that traffic puts it way ahead of the nearest competitor.  Make no mistake, the Facebook audience is already highly mobile, and we can expect to see that grow as its recently launched iPad app continues to gain traction.

As the RWW piece points out, Eric Eldon (then with Inside Facebook now at TechCrunch) created this chart using data up till the end of March 2011.  The growth curve continues to increase, and marketers should bear this in mind.

There is more going on in mobile than one blog post can cover, but 2012 should be very interesting.  Just don’t get too caught up in the hype, and enjoy the ride!