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February 27, 2012

Putting the Mobile Future in Focus – 5 Stories that Will Shape the Mobile and Tablet Markets in 2012

By: Sarah Radwanick

Last week comScore announced the release of the 2012 Mobile Future in Focus report, a comprehensive view of the mobile and connected device landscape through an exploration of key trends driving smartphone adoption, mobile media usage in categories such as social networking and retail, mobile ecosystem dynamics, and shifts in multi-device digital media consumption. The report highlights insights primarily from mobile markets in the U.S., Canada, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Japan.

2011 was a year of many mobile milestones, and 2012 promises to bring further growth to the industry. As we look to the year ahead, several key themes are set to define the future of the mobile and connected device landscape:

Mobile Ecosystem Battle Becoming a War

  • The competition between operating systems is poised to intensify in 2012 as brands compete for the tens of millions of consumers that will adopt smartphones during the year. In 2012, expect smartphone penetration to cross the 50 percent threshold in the U.S., Canada and EU5, with the UK and Spain already reaching this milestone during 2011. In both the U.S. and Europe, operating systems already play a critical role in device purchase decisions, ranking just under network quality in importance. With smartphone ecosystems constantly growing in sophistication and offerings, expect consumers to put increasing weight in this factor when making their purchase decision.

Tablets – The Fourth Screen is Going Mainstream

  • Tablets are taking their place as the fourth screen in consumers’ lives, joining TV, PCs and smartphones as the gateway to digital media consumption. Among the most important trends that defined tablet adoption at the end of 2011 and will be critical in shaping 2012 is the rise in affordable tablet devices that cater to various price point considerations. The U.S. release of the Kindle Fire and NOOK Tablet was a critical turning point in the mass adoption of tablet devices, bringing to market the first tablets that combined an affordable price point with competitive specs anchored by a strong brand, already established distribution channels and major marketing dollars. This lower price point is critical in bringing tablet devices to the mass market and will be integral to this competitive landscape in 2012.

Mobile Disrupting the Traditional Retail Sales Funnel

  • Smartphones have become consumers’ most-valued shopping companion, a trend that is poised to continue in 2012 as smartphone adoption surges past 50 percent in many markets. What has been referred to by some as retailers’ worst nightmare, smartphones are bringing the power of the Internet right into brick-and-mortar stores, arming consumers with the pricing power that was once reserved for the confines of their home or work online shopping experience.

Mind the Digital Omnivore

  • The surging global adoption of smartphones and tablets is changing the how, when and where consumers connect to digital content, creating the most dramatic shift in digital media consumption since the advent of the personal computer. Understanding today’s multi-device consumer, or what is known as the ‘Digital Omnivore,’ will be increasingly important for advertisers and publishers in 2012. Understanding how consumers behave across multiple environments is the key for businesses to stay ahead of the curve and ensure their digital businesses minimize the effects of disruption and maximize the incremental opportunities.

Consumers Ready to Hit Play On Mobile Video

  • Fueled by 4G adoption, device advancements and app proliferation, mobile video is poised to be an increasingly prominent activity for mobile users in 2012. In the U.S., 4G subscribers are 33 percent more likely to watch mobile video on their smartphone than an average user, demonstrating the critical role 4G networks will play in bringing video to the small screen for mass mobile consumption. Similarly WiFi hot spots continue to spring up offering mobile consumers an increasing number of opportunities to engage with mobile video on-the-go and in turn engage with mobile ads, which will be a growing component of the mobile video landscape and its monetization.

2012 is sure to be a white hot year in the mobile marketplace, both in the U.S. and around the world. We hope this report helps bring the mobile future into focus so digital marketers can understand the important trends, consider their implications, and determine what they should be looking out for in the year ahead.

If you’d like to download comScore’s 2012 Mobile Future in Focus report you can do so here. We also invite you to download our recently released 2012 U.S. Digital Future in Focus report if you haven’t already.

Tags: Connected Devices, Mobile, Smartphone, Tablets