With a smartphone penetration that extends far above 50% of the mobile using population, and more than 5 million smartphones with Internet access, Sweden is at the forefront of usage of the mobile web. Even so, this great on-line nation, with all the capacity in the world, fails to follow the mobility trend. Leaders in the mobility movement -- the U.S., the UK and South East Asia -- are moving fast, and Sweden is left behind.
Why is it so hard?
The reason Sweden is stalling is because large Swedish companies have put a lot of effort and money into the traditional web over the last decade(s). Swedish companies are not ready for another “change”, but the Swedish population is.
It is also a matter of teaching old dogs news tricks.
Sweden is a great digital nation and proud of it, but it is hard to shift away from the norm. A traditional web culture is well established and therefore hard to disrupt.
Until now, Swedish companies have had a hard time grasping reality and admitting that consumers are the driving force in the mobile movement. As of now, consumers are asking companies to shift gears, but soon they will demand it. Basically, large corporations must go mobile or die… Mobile media is here to stay.
The reality is that the web-only strategy many companies apply today is yesterday’s news. The consumer is looking for information via desktop/laptop and mobile web devises. Uncomfortable or not, a company without a mobile strategy is a company with no strategy at all.
The U.S. is ahead!
American companies have a history of being able to react to change. These companies are usually enthusiastic to follow trends and this enables a more precise and modern marketing strategy. They become leaders.
Swedish companies, on the other hand, tend to be followers, and many business decisions are not based on changing business climate, but more on what the neighbor is doing. No-one wants to take the first step, leaving the entire country far behind its global competitors.
The future may be bright, after all
Sweden may not be up to speed but this will change, and, as a matter of fact, it is already changing. It has been a great year for mobility in Sweden in 2012. My experience is that as soon as the ball is set in motion, things move fast.
Suddenly, the well-established high standard for the existing web is a great advantage. It must be noted that the mobile web is a complement and not a substitute.
Swedes have a great understanding for using the web to simplify their everyday life. A deep-rooted web tradition, with great developers and a great sense for digital media, will help too. A fundamental stabile platform will give Swedish companies a competitive advantage in the long run.
The major challenge for Swedish companies and marketing authorities is the simple fact that the gap between the U.S. and Sweden is getting larger; this gives the U.S. advantage in mobility going into 2013.
To become world dominators in mobile web, Swedish companies have to not only follow the trend but also take it to the next level. One major part of this is to address the fact that mobile web is not a web development issue or IT subject but a strategic matter.
Swedes are creative, and the existing standard is high, so this should make it easier for companies to move quickly. Also, Sweden is enjoying a good macro business climate (unlike many other countries in Europe). Last, but certainly not least, Sweden has if not the best, then some of the best, web developers in the world, as well as amazing creative skills.
The paradigm will shift and once it does, we are confident that Sweden will become a dominant player in this marketing segment, too.