ADOTAS — It’s been almost fifty years since Don Adams started making calls on his shoe phone as secret agent Maxwell Smart. Ever since “Get Smart” went off the air, we’ve all been secretly hankering for a shoe phone of our own. That day is finally here. No, we’re not technically making calls on our shoes, but we do all have phones in our pockets — smartphones that not only make calls, text and check our email, but also let us take pictures, get directions, search the web, and so much more. This has tremendous implications for businesses of all types.
The introduction of the smartphone has coincided with the decline of the PC. In 2011, Steve Jobs predicted the arrival of the “post-PC era” in which demand for smartphones and tablets would outstrip computers. As the design and capabilities of mobile devices has evolved in tandem with the availability of cloud services, consumers across the globe have flocked to their convenience and power. Overall, PCs have seen their share of the total device market fall from roughly 50% to just 30% in only two years while smartphones grew from 45% to 60% during that same time (IDC 2012). Activities formerly carried out across multiple devices – personal computers, cameras, calculators, clocks — have been reengineered into a single, cost effective, handheld tool.
Consumer behavior continues to change with the increased adoption of mobile devices. Social, local and mobile behavior that was revolutionary just one year ago is now embedded in our culture. Savvy marketers are paying attention.
A Brief History
Mobile phones have evolved dramatically since the first hand-held was demonstrated by John F. Mitchell and Dr. Martin Cooper of Motorola in 1973. The new invention sold for $3,995 and weighed two pounds, leading to the nickname “the brick.”
In 1983, the first commercial mobile phone, the DynaTAC, launched on the first US 1G network. It cost $100m to develop and took over a decade to hit the market. The phone had a talk time of just half an hour and took ten hours to charge. Consumer demand was strong despite the battery life, weight, and low talk time, and waiting lists were in the thousands.
The current leading-edge smartphone offered by the industry’s two dominant players, Samsung and Apple, is dramatically different. With a highly responsive touch screen, slim size (just under .5 inches thick), light weight (4 ounces), long-lasting battery (talk time of up to 14 hours), and powerful processing speed, these smartphones offer an unprecedented combination of power, speed, access and functionality. Many activities have been made easier, more comfortable, safer, and more secure through the use of a smartphone.
These devices are not just changing our ability to work and play on the go. The smartphone is having a transformational effect on a number of industries. Real-time product price comparison has altered people’s shopping habits and retailers’ customer relationships. Healthcare has been transformed by mobile communication between patients and doctors including access to test results and alerts on significant health-related events. Financial markets, banking, and online and offline retail have been revolutionized with anywhere, anytime transactions possible on mobile phones that don’t require cash or credit cards.
In an analysis of more than 3,000 users of local business Internet search – the only study of its kind — the 15miles/Neustar Localeze Sixth Annual Local Search Study offers answers to questions about how mobile devices are changing consumer behavior. Here are just three findings from the report.
1. Search is #1 Mobile Activity. The Local Search Study revealed that consumers’ number one activity on mobile devices is search. Over half of all mobile browser users access search content through their browser. In fact, in the past eight months, the total number of visitors to search sites via mobile devices has jumped by more than 25%. At the same time, PC/laptop searches decreased 6% over the past year. Search volume is growing but activity is shifting from PCs to smartphones.
2. Mobile Search Leads to Purchase. Successful local business searches conducted via mobile phones were more likely to end with an in-store visit than PC/laptop and tablet searches. Local business searchers who used a mobile phone or tablet were also more likely to make a purchase as a result of their search.
3. Mobile and Tablet Searchers Are Not Alike. Mobile phones are more likely to be used than tablets when information is needed on the go. Tablet users are becoming less mobile, less concerned with the ease of use of the device, and require greater depth of information. Mobile phone searchers are more likely than tablet users to cite maps, driving directions, and distance to the business as helpful pieces of information to be found during their search. Tablet searchers are more likely to cite consumer reviews and online promotions to be more helpful.
Get Smart About Mobile
Is your company making the most of mobile? With more people searching for information on the go, success may depend on whether customers can engage with you online. And they don’t even have to take their shoes off to do it. What would Maxwell Smart think?