Splashed across the business press every day we read headlines like, “Mobile Now Accounts for 40% of Internet Access Traffic” and “Mobile Commerce Rapidly Outpacing Brick and Mortar Retailers.” Seemingly, the world has gone crazy for consuming content on mobile devices. Try talking to a marketer about mobile analytics and he’ll be your new best friend. And maybe the most boring one. The septuagenarian Chairman of my former company is on the mobile bandwagon. And why not all the hype? The development of mobile computing has been a boon for content creators and marketers in both traditional entertainment and gaming verticals as well as new ones to the space like retailers.
All of this is probably why you are reading Mobile Fomo right now (thanks for juicing our numbers, by the way!). And yet, I want to take a different track. I believe, quite strongly, that “mobile” is merely one step towards a broader content distribution ecosystem. It’s a term we may not be using a decade from now. Rather, instead of speaking of a mobile experience for content consumption, what we should be speaking of is a “multi-platform” experience. Meaning, that creative content should be platform agonistic with a seamless and high quality experience across all available screens. There is a key factor underlying this transformation: mobile is rapidly becoming the “go to first screen” for content but its often not the best.
Mobile as the “Go To” First Screen
Before the advent of the iPhone in 2007 (remember when…), users were confined to plain text web browsing at a slow pace that made You’ve Got Mail’s dial up romanticism sexy and exciting. Since then, advances in hardware with the development of new phone models (virtually every month) have placed an emphasis on content rather than hardware. Slowly, mobile devices became a key access point for content, information, and even creation. With the statistics below, it is not hard to see how mobile devices have become the first screen:
• With the emergence of iOS and Android as the principal operating systems, the average viewing time for video on mobile devices is now 3.5 hours a month
• Studies indicate that consumers are watching long form content and
switching from mobile device to larger screen (think iPad, laptop,
HDTV) and then back to mobile device (this calls for the ability to seamlessly integrate the devices so moving between screens is organic rather than arduous)
• Social media applications, which Americans currently spend around 9.9% of their internet time on (interestingly exceeding the amount of time spent on Google’s sites – including YouTube – which accounts for around 9.6%)
• Almost 70% of mobile users say they would watch ads in exchange for
free access to creative content
These trends have had a resounding impact on how users access content on mobile devices and are employing it as the go to first screen. The flexibility offered by the mobile space far exceeds that of any other platform and that’s why it has become so important.
Often, Mobile is not the Best
So, as mobile has become the “go to” first screen, this begs the most important question: is it the best screen? More often than not, the answer is a resounding no. Is it the best platform in which to watch narrative entertainment content, play games, pay for complicated bills on your Chase account? Many users would say no. And yet conversely, many users would say that they want the flexibility offered by mobile with the quality proposition offered by a browser, laptop, or at home entertainment experience. And herein lies the rub. A multiplatform environment, where the needs of many different interconnected devices are taken into account in the development of creative content is the future. Try playing many mobile games created for an iPhone on an iPad. Sometimes it’s a good experience. Other times it’s a bad experience. Try watching a feature film on a Galaxy S III. Good but not great. Rather, if content creators strive develop for ubiquity across multiple platforms (as much as possible), they will serve consumers better, engender long term loyalty, and higher profits.
The marketplace is already there. We just have to capture it.