The rise of the mobile device

Yep, it’s 2017.

Anyone approaching their second year in College would have missed out on partying like it was 1999 as they would have still been in their babygros. It really is quite scary how quickly time passes.

This army of walking, talking hipsters commonly grouped together as Millennials have grown up in a whirl of apps, data, Spotify, Facebook, WhatsApp and IMO.

One of the most interesting trends that this amorphous grouping has brought to the world is the rise of the mobile device. I suppose technically we should still call them by their primary function of a telephone, but as we know such a simplistic word doesn’t take into account the sheer capacity to deliver all sorts of peer shaped data and information both graphical and text for our day-to-day needs.

I played 1950s Sinatra via some neat Bluetooth headphones from my Samsung device on the way to work this morning on the train. Someone across the aisle was looking at Google Maps on his device whilst a female next to me was reading the latest blockbuster book ‘Girl on a Train’ on hers. Quite apt really.

Device design, their huge growth in capacity, and the impact that the humble mobile phone has had on our economy cannot be overstated, and their huge possibilities are really still to come. Just last week a colleague used Apple Pay on his device to buy me a beer in my local small pub. Unheard of just a few years ago. Both buying me a beer and the application.

There are plenty of mobile trends that are beginning to happen that will continue to shake up life as we know it, Jim.

But many companies just aren’t ready for it. Most businesses just don’t know what’s ahead or what these Millennials want when it comes to mobile apps.

Companies and businesses around the globe have invested millions into building such apps – some have gone on to become fantastic, innovative success stories, while others have fallen by the wayside. In 2013, there were some 800,000 apps in the app store and only 80 of them cracked $1 million USD in revenue. Who remembers Google Wave now?

Given the Millennials will be the ones running shipping businesses in the not-too-distant future a simple question might be to ask; what do they want from an app, given our growing reliance on the answer being readily in our pocket?

Using Google Survey results it is clear that such a grouping uses such mobile devices to browse the web, three times more often than using a desktop PC.

Unique features apposite to their ‘on the go’ lives to the app comes first when such a grouping makes a choice about downloading it to a mobile device, but the second most influential decider by 45% is if friends use it. Peer-to-peer endorsement is it seems, the key to any app success.

How about the drawbacks? 49% of those surveyed didn’t like apps that drain battery power. I think we can all subscribe to desperately hunting for the nearest power point when we arrive somewhere new after over-using a map application.

Strangely an app that required both hands to key buttons is viewed very poorly by over 60% of those surveyed. It is all about thumb reach so it seems. We’re becoming one handed or perhaps that limb is used to carry the coffee whilst surfing the app screens with the other? Data usage is also a big deal. Nearly 40% identified this as a top three concern with apps becoming ever larger when being downloaded.

Asked to pick out those apps that Millennials would turn to first, social networking ones came out on top by nearly 70% followed by messaging apps. That’s WhatsApp, Kik, Line, Kakao, IMO, Viber, etc to you and me. Interestingly the average amount of apps routinely downloaded now by over half of the Millennials surveyed can cover at least three separate screens. That’s a lot of apps. Work related apps came in around 35% with sports apps just over 25%.

Returning to the pub (and why not?) nearly 50% of the group suggested that they would be actively engaging with a mobile wallet this year.

Mobile wallets are essentially digital versions of traditional wallets that someone would carry in their pocket. While there are many variations, usually they can hold digital information about credit and debit cards for making payments, store coupons and loyalty programs, specific information about personal identity and more.

Many companies are jumping into the mobile payments space— on both the paying and receiving sides of the transaction—and new innovators are continuously changing the industry. In the U.S., they include companies such as Google, Amazon, PayPal, Square, and Apple.

Even my little local pub.