When 2010 is recorded in history, it may well go down as the "Year of the Smartphone," although that designation may also apply to 2011.
According to comScore's "2010 Mobile Year in Review," smartphone adoption rates in the U.S. reached 27% of the market by December 2010, up 10 percentage points from the previous year. At the same time, 36% of Americans used their mobile devices to access the Web in 2010. Across all global regions, mobile Web access increased 7-9%, according to comScore.
"We saw a lot of innovation with the past year," Andrew Lipsman, senior director of industry analysis at comScore, tells Marketing Daily. "With that [penetration] comes a whole range of advanced capabilities and mobile media services."
Such growth will likely continue into this year, with smartphone penetration likely surpassing the 50% level of market share by year's end, Lipsman says. "At that point, the landscape begins to change," he says. "It becomes a part of the norm."
And once it becomes part of the norm, the sector will generate even more marketing attention than it already does, Lipsman says. "We're entering a golden age of mobile," he says. "It starts with consumers. It's not until consumers are concentrated that the marketing and ad dollars will follow. But that's what we're beginning to see."
All of this increases the importance of mobile for marketing strategies, Lipsman says. As more consumers begin buying phones with greater capabilities, there will be more opportunities for marketers to reach consumers with more powerful programs -- particularly when marketers utilize the "unique benefits" of mobile, such as location services and possible payment services through phones, he says.
"It's going to become very important very quickly," Lipsman says. "We've seen this take hold in Japan and we haven't seen it happen yet, at least in the U.S. [But] when you have something like Starbucks experimenting with it, that could become a watershed event."