The Race to Win the Digital Mobile Consumer Has Just Begun


For many consumers around the world, mobile devices have become one of life’s basic necessities, and the passion that shows no signs of abating. Over the last decade, consumers have purchased smartphones and tablet computers at an astonishing rate. Consider Apple’s devices. After releasing the smartphone that changed the cellphone world on June 29, 2007 — the first iPhone — Apple took only eight quarters to ship more than 20 million units. But that adoption rate was nothing compared with the speed with which consumers’ embraced the company’s tablet device, the iPad. Two years after it began shipping the first iPad in April 2010, Apple passed the 65 million unit mark – an adoption rate three times the iPhone’s.1 (See Exhibit I-1.)


Exhibit I-1: How Fast Consumers Have Embraced Apple’s Mobile Device

Exhibit I-1: iPods Changed Media Industry iPhones Ramped Even Faster ipad Growth (3x iPhone) Leaves “Siblings” in Dust

Source: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) and Meeker, using Apple data. 


But the breathtaking adoption rate is not just an Apple phenomenon. In fact, in the first 13 quarters after hitting the market, global shipments of smartphones based on Google’s Android operating system were four times those of the celebrated iPhone.2 By 2012 smartphones of all types had finally cemented themselves in the palms of Americans. In March, half of U.S. subscribers to mobile phone service (50.4%) were using smartphones, according to a Nielsen Co. survey,3 and nearly half (47%) of those smartphone users were shopping on their devices through mobile apps, not just making phone calls.And smartphones were not the only device that consumers had tasked with their shopping chores. Some 29% of American adults owned tablet devices or e-book readers by January 2012 – up in only one month from 18% — and far above the 2% adoption rate of April 2009.

Yet smartphones and tablets can hardly be called an American-only obsession. The adoption rates were higher in many Asia-Pacific nations, including China (where 66% of online adults had smartphones), Australia (65%) and South Korea (67%).In August 2012, the number of Chinese people who perused the Internet from their mobile devices for the first time was higher than the number who accessed it from a desktop computer.

Consumers’ love affair with mobile devices is not likely to fade away soon, if ever. As the devices become ever more potent and as wireless transmission grows in bandwidth and coverage, the adoption rate is likely to only climb further.

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1From a presentation by Mary Meeker of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers entitled “Internet Trends” and dated May 30, 2012. Meeker quoted Apple financial reports.
Meeker presentation quoting Gartner and Morgan Stanley research, page 10.
America’s New Mobile Majority: a Look at Smartphone Owners in the U.S.,” article by Nielsen Co.
Nielsen statistics quoted in an Aug. 6, 2012 story in PC World.
5 According to Pew Research Center. E-book reading devices include Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook.
Nielsen data.
InAccording to data from CNNIC.

 

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