The mobile world is not exactly getting simplified, but some consumer behaviors are beginning to take shape.
While it’s likely to be some time before final usage patterns evolve, as more smartphone capabilities are utilized and more tablets are acquired, some early indicators are beginning to emerge.
There are single-screen as well as multi-screen uses, as consumers view various screens for different reasons at different times. Marketers will be challenged to mine this puzzle.
Depending on whom you may be trying to reach and what message can determine at least an approach or two. There is the age-old issue of the mobile Web versus apps.
For example, Nielsen recently found that the majority of smartphone owners used their devices to shop, but they would rather access the mobile Web site via smartphone rather than using the retailers’ apps.
They also found that during the holiday shopping season, those who did use the retailers’ apps tend to spend more time on them, and that male shoppers were more likely to try an app.
Then there’s the platform issue -- with Android and Apple controlling 71 percent of the U.S. smartphone market, according to comScore, with some projections having Microsoft displace Apple for the number two spot in coming years.
Although Android leads Apple in market share, Apple is number one in mobile commerce shopping satisfaction, according to the analytics company ForeSee.
The type of product or service being sold and the location of the consumer will also play a significant role.
As one example, the number of tickets sent to mobile phones is projected to increase to 23 billion within four years, according to Juniper Research. And this year, the researchers expect marketers to spend $15 billion globally on mobile retail campaigns, linking retailers with mobile shoppers.
And for marketers who may have totally nailed how to deal with mobile Web sites, apps, platforms and location, along comes the issue of using multiple screens simultaneously.
The first screen -- television -- is obviously not going away. But the second screen of the PC is migrating to the tablet, which frees consumers to use those two together, or at least in the same room.
New research from GfK Knowledge Networks reported earlier this week found that more than half (52%) of minutes spent with tablets were used while watching TV.
Meanwhile, these same consumers still likely have on their body the third screen of their smartphone, which is always on, and the researchers found that the same smartphone usage time spent was while with TV.
Outside of multi-screen viewing, additional information from the GfK Knowledge Networks MultiMedia Mentor research found some different smartphone and tablet usage patterns, especially in daily usage based on age and sex. Overall findings among all users:
But depending on the particular demographic, the smartphone and tablet usage varies widely, especially by age group.
In the 18- to-34-year-old group, 52 minutes a day are spent on smartphones and 34 minutes on tablets. But males in that age group spend more time on both, with 57 minutes on smartphones and 39 minutes on tablets. Females spend 47 minutes on smartphones and 28 minutes on tablets.
But in the 35- to 49-year-old demographic, smartphone minutes a day (24) are eclipsed by tablet minutes (29). And GfK Knowledge Networks also found that in this group, females used tablets for 28 minutes a day compared to 13 minutes for males.
Part of that time spent on both smartphones and tablets will be focused on shopping and buying.
One piece of recent research from RichRelevance showed that the mobile share of shopping sessions by platform is still only at 9 percent compared to 91 percent from PCs. There is no doubt that this is about to dramatically change.
Whether consumers are using one, two, three or even four screens -- either alone or in various combinations -- they will be searching, shopping and buying wirelessly.
The issue for marketers is how to be in the right place at the right time on the right screen(s).