Mobile Handset Popularity

charts Have you checked your phone for a text message/status update/tweet/email in the past 10 minutes?  If not, are you getting jittery with anxiety and reaching for your phone now?  This seems to be the trend with more and more mobile phone users these days.  You can’t do most of those functions on your mom’s standard cell phone!

So where is the mobile handset industry going and what does it mean for mobile marketing?

To know where the industry is going we need to understand the where we’re at now.  Let’s start with a brief definition of the types of phones on the market today:

Cell Phones (Ahem… dumb phones)
Can you say Jitterbug?  These guys have one purpose, to make and receive calls.  Period.

Feature Phones
Now we’re getting somewhere, and getting some features.  Most teens have a feature phone and they use it predominantly for texting their friends.  These phones have more features as well such as email and web browsing.  Many have QWERTY keyboards as well.

Smart Phones
These are the powerhouses in the handset industry.  They are essentially a handheld computer capable of doing just about any task that a computer can do.  Most smart phone platforms (Blackberry, iPhone, Android) have an app store where users can download and install software directly from their phone.  The web browser experience is much more desktop like.  Email, texting and instant messaging are common activities as well.  These phones tend to require a data plan because the web access is built into just about every aspect of the phone.

Where’s the Industry Headed?

According to Nielsen, we’re heading towards a much more smart phone heavy world.  That makes me happy :).

us-smartphone-growth 

I think there will always be a need for dumb phones, but the line between feature phones and smart phones continues to blur.  As feature phones add social media apps, etc., they get closer to smart phones.

What Does the Growth of Smart Phone Popularity Mean for Marketers?

Let’s start with the web.  If you consider that smart phones have the most capable web browsers of the group, their growth means more opportunity for mobile site developers AND full website developers.  Because smart phone browsers are usually capable of rendering a desktop website in near perfect form, the need for a tiny mobile-specific version may be dwindling. 

How about Social Media?  Those of us that have a smart phone know that checking facebook/twitter/linkedIn/etc… is so easy on our phones.  It’s easy to send location specific status updates as well.  Because we tend to have our phones with us all of the time, it means more time for marketers to reach us through social media.  The same applies to texting and email.  In-App Advertising is also growing in popularity with growth of smart phones. 

Overall, the growth of smart phone market share is a huge plus for marketers.  If you haven’t looked at a mobile strategy yet, the time is now!

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