Top Trends of 2012: The Continuing Rapid Growth of Mobile

In our half-yearly review of the top Internet trends of 2012, there's been a common theme: mobile is the main driver for all of them. The Visual Web (Instagram, Pinterest and similar image-focused apps), the Consumer Cloud (Evernote, Dropbox, iCloud and others), social video apps (Socialcam and Viddy) and video on tablets (BuzzFeed, Flipboard and others). Each of those trends are popular in 2012 because of smartphones and/or tablets.

According to StatCounter global statistics, mobile traffic jumped from about 4% of all Web traffic at the end of 2010 to over 10.5% now.

It's difficult to choose just a few examples of how mobile has rapidly grown in 2012, but we can clearly see the influence of mobile this year in three of the biggest Internet companies.

Google's Mobile Content Play

What used to be known as the Android Market was re-branded at the end of June to Google Play. It's a content store for Android apps, covering the many smartphones and tablets that run Google's open source mobile OS. As Dan Rowinski noted:

Almost every announcement at the Google I/O keynote [...] tied directly to Google Play. Android Jelly Bean [the latest version of the OS] makes it easier for developers to upload apps to the store and for consumers to download app updates from the store. The Nexus 7 Android tablet serves as a portal to it. The Nexus Q is all about media in the home, media drawn from it.

Microsoft's Mobile-Centric Windows 8

Microsoft is a giant company built from a PC operating system: Windows. But the latest version of Windows, Windows 8, is heavily influenced by mobile and designed to integrate across devices.

The Windows 8 user interface - labeled Metro - is based on the mobile paradigm. It has touchscreen functionality and a new tile-based Start screen inspired by the Windows Phone operating system.

Microsoft has also made it easier for developers to create cross-platform apps. The Windows Phone 8 operating system features something Microsoft calls “the common core,” which is a shared set of code between Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 on the desktop that will allow developers to write applications for Windows 8 and easily port them to Windows Phone 8.

Facebook's Mobile Statistics

According to its public statistics, Facebook had "more than 500 million mobile monthly active users as of April 20, 2012." It also claimed "488 million monthly active users who used Facebook mobile products in March 2012."

Facebook's overall monthly active users is 901 million, so that's 55% of Facebook's monthly active user base who access the social network on a mobile device. That's got to be a strong indicator of which direction mobile traffic is headed!