According to newly released data from IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, PC shipments are expected to fall 7.8% in 2013. Conversely, tablet shipments are expected to grow 58.7% year over year in 2013, reaching 229.3 million units, up from 144.5 million units in 2012. Given this rate of growth, IDC expects tablet shipments to outpace the entire PC market (portables and desktops combined) by 2015. IDC's sister report, the Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, revealed that over 216.2 smartphone units were shipped out in Q1 2013 alone. So desktops and laptops are out, tablets and smartphones are in. What does this mobile migration mean for your business?
THE MOBILE CONSUMER
A survey conducted by SDL on consumer mobile and social media habits showed that consumers function seamlessly across channels when interacting with brands, and as part of their experience there is an expectation of consistency and a fair value exchange over all channels- online, mobile, and in-store. Consumers are looking for what they always have from brands: reliability and relevance. The difference is that mobile technology has shifted the balance of power from the producer to the consumer, likely for good.
Broad adoption of the internet, social media and mobile devices has spawned a more sophisticated and less patient consumer base that has an almost organic relationship with technology. Gratification and resolution no longer need to be deferred: in today's techonomy, consumers want what they want where, and when, they want it. These developments, especially the meteoric proliferation of mobile devices, represent the defining characteristics of the modern-day consumer; they also serve as the principle drivers of business' mobile-first approach to marketing.
AM I MOBILE?
However, speaking as a card-carrying member of this modern-day consumer class, I really don't spend too much time reflecting on whether or not I am on a mobile or stationary online journey - at least not until one or the other stops working. In fact, as device sizes continue to shrink and expand and device usage continues to pervade every aspect of our daily experience, the very distinction is losing relevance.
If I am lounging at home with my tablet am I considered mobile? I sure as heck don't look or feel very mobile with a half-gallon tub of peanut-butter chocolate ice cream balanced on my gut. Moreover, am I considered mobile or stationary if I am at a coffee shop finishing some work on my portable device? It seems that the very concept of mobile itself may be in the eye of the beholder (or toter, in this case).
Setting mobile device semantics aside, as a red-blooded, tech-savvy consumer, I am more interested in getting what I want when and where I want it as easily as possible. Let me give you an example.
Let's say I want to curb the family hair care expenses (not a bad idea given that we have two wee ones and a third on the way) and as such type in the phrase, "home haircutting system" into my Google search pane:
As you can see, atop the results is an Amazon.com link to the Flobee Haircutting system. Great, let's go:
How about that! Thanks to the fact that my Chrome browser keeps me logged on to Amazon 24/7, I can purchase a Flowbee Precision Home Haircutting System with just one click. The product is highly rated by my Amazon peers; given that I've had decent success purchasing other highly rated products on the site, I'm sold. Better still, the Flobee is Amazon Prime eligible, which means it will be delivered to my doorstep free of charge within 48 hours of clicking.
It doesn't get much easier than that on any device.
MOBILE ON TRIAL
For kicks, I tried this same process on both my smartphone and tablet, timing the entire process from initial search input to final purchase click for all three devices (don't worry, I didn't actually buy three Flobees-I pulled out on the final click for two of the three). Here are the results of my time trials:
PC: 5 seconds (I'm a fast typer on a keyboard)
Android: 12 seconds (this slower time has to do with a combination of my sausage fingers and a crappy, outdated 2.3 OS)
Tablet: 8 seconds (I lost three seconds setting the ice cream tub down)
The user experience for all three was virtually identical, save the fact that I had to wait waaaaaay longer to execute my purchase on my mobile (I'll never get those 7 seconds back). Admittedly, had any of the sites I encountered in my mobile stationary journey not been optimized for all devices, I would've likely been slowed down and annoyed. Happily, the good folks at Google/Amazon (and Flobee) provided a nifty, integrated UX.
What's the moral of this story? Computers of all shapes, sizes, and capabilities- "mobile" or otherwise-will proliferate over the coming years. Your job is to ensure that your brand's online presence functions as seamlessly as possible over all of them. Holistic solutions like responsive web design and integrated digital marketing help companies provide a simple, reliable, and relevant experience to users anywhere, anytime, on any device.
There is no disputing the fact that the world is going mobile, whatever that means. But don't let the mad rush to mobile bog you down; by focusing instead on marketing integration, your mobile dilemma will take care of itself.