A Real-World Mobile Strategy Cheatsheet

Facebook raised eyebrows recently by reporting that most of its members are using the service from a mobile device as opposed to a typical computer. If this and other indicators prove accurate, many businesses are in for destruction, opportunity or both.

Fact is that we’re in a full-blown technological transition whose breadth might surprise you. But not Larry Page, the Google chief executive who said in an October 2012 earnings call that “it’s hardly surprising” that mobile search and commerce is growing. Page further noted that while an “abundance” of connectivity “causes disruption, it also creates amazing opportunity.”

Smartphone Owners Are Young And Rich

Part of that opportunity comes from the fact that smartphone users tend to be richer and younger than the general population. According to a 2012 survey by demographics researcher Nielsen, smartphone ownership can be described as a function of age and income. Mobile penetration peaks among 25-to-34 year olds making more than $100,000 a year, and bottoms out with 65+ year olds who make just $15,000 to $35,000.

But that means there’s still a lot of growth to come as smartphone ownership continues to trickle into ubiquity.

Among mobile device buyers in the U.S., two-thirds are choosing smartphones over “feature phones” for their next phone purchase. But so far, among these 233 million mobile users, currently only 36% smartphone owners, according to Nielsen estimates from 2012. For comparison, Nielsen believes there are 192 million PC users and 290 million people who own television sets.

So, how can you convince your bosses and colleagues to take advantage of this historic mobile opportunity? The following data points and examples from leading companies can help.

Remember, the point of these numbers is to motivate, not frighten, so you don’t need to grab them and run screaming into your boss’s office (although this might prove a useful strategy if your business has yet to galvanize around a mobile strategy). It should suffice to pull up this post on your smartphone during your next meeting, and slyly slip an anecdote or two into the conversation.

When all attention turns to you for insight, you can riff on the words of Mark Zuckerberg in the most recent Facebook earnings call: “I think our opportunity on mobile is the most misunderstood aspect of [your company] today. Most people underestimate how fundamentally good the trend towards mobile can be for [your company].”

1. Apple

Apple now sells 1.7 million iPads a week.

2. Bank of America

Bank of America averages 10,000 new mobile subscribers each day, according to chief executive Brian Moynihan. He says growth is strong among his company’s “preferred client area” - this resulting in an uptake in BoA’s brokerage arm Merrill Lynch.

3. Facebook

Some 23% of Facebook’s $1.3 billion in advertising revenue now comes from mobile, up from 14% from last quarter. The number of daily Facebook users on mobile devices now exceed those on the Web. 680 million people are coming back at least once a month, an increase of 57% from the previous year.

4. Google

As of Q3 2012, Google had an $8 billion mobile revenue run rate.

5. LinkedIn

Last year, mobile was the fastest growing service inside of professional social networking company LinkedIn.

In 2011, 15% of total unique visits came from mobile devices according to chief executive Jeff Weiner. But according to a more recent earnings call, an average of 25% of Linkedin’s unique users came through mobile apps, up 13% from the previous year.

6. Netflix

Netflix claims to have 33 million "streaming members." Most of them are not using PCs to access its service, according to Internet researcher The Sandvine Group. The company found that non-traditional device users consumed more; for example, a Netflix customer using an Xbox 360 consumed twice as much content as the average subscriber.

7. Pinterest

According to Nielsen’s annual social media report, 39% of all social networking time is spent on mobile apps and the Web. Among social media sites, newcomer Pinterest led in mobile growth with 1,047% year-over-year growth.

8. Plenty Of Fish

Online dating site Plenty Of Fish saw the mobile movement as early as February 2012, when 40% of the site’s U.S. signups came via mobile devices. In a post published then, the company estimated that the site would be 60% to 70% mobile by the end of 2012 and summarized a sense of bittersweetness in the company's casual tone:

Now, it's great to have all this traffic, the only problem is now one has figured out how to make similar levels of money on mobile as the web, unless you do some real scammy stuff. So ya its great to have more traffic on mobile than every other dating app combined in english speaking countries but it doesn’t matter much if you can’t really monetize it at high levels and it starts to canabilize your web traffic. [sic]

9. Yahoo

According to Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer, Yahoo saw 200 million monthly unique mobile users in 2012. “From a monetization perspective, this is still a very nascent source of revenue for us,” she said in a recent earnings call. “With any platform shift, revenue always follows users, and Mobile will be no different. Smart monetization of this usage is inevitable.” There are 234 million Americans age 13 and older using mobile devices according to comScore.

10. Zynga

There are 22 million Zynga mobile daily active users, according to a recent earnings call for the social gaming company. Revenue brought in by mobile customers represents 20% of all virtual goods sold by the company.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.