A new year provides an opportunity to take a snapshot look at mobile -- current and future.
A wide range of recent research provides some insight into the mobile landscape, from recent holiday shopping results to forward projections.
In one study, 19,000 shoppers around the world were surveyed to see who buys online using smartphones and tablets. The leading countries with smartphone buyers are China, India, Mexico, Australia and South Korea, according to the study by Mobify. The top tablet locations for commerce are China, India, Mexico and the U.S.
Both smartphone and tablet growth are noticeable, with 17 million iOS and Android devices activated on Dec. 25, compared to 7 million last Christmas. As another indicator of the growing adoption of tablets, more of them (51%) than smartphones (49%) were activated on Christmas Day, according to Flurry Analytics.
Not to be outdone by hardware, 328 million app downloads were recorded by Flurry on Dec. 25, at a pace of 20 million per hour.
During the holiday shopping season, coupons also were up and coming, with 33 percent of smartphone owners having used them compared to 18 percent last year, according to the SapientNitro Holiday Shopping Poll.
In addition to coupons, more than a third (35%) of those with smartphones used GPS and location features to help with holiday shopping and 27 percent used a QR (Quick Response) code to find more information about a product, according to the study.
Research is also showing that smartphone owners are somewhat more active when it comes to shopping, with more than half (57%) of them actively seeking out new product information compared to 41 percent of non-smartphone owners, according to Forrester Research.
These smartphone owners are also searching, with mobile being responsible for 30 percent of all local searches, according to a study by YP.
Moving forward, there will be no shortage of high-speed mobile devices to increase all these activities. Global LTE smartphone shipments are expected to triple this year, from 91 million units last year to 275 million by the end of this year.
Total smartphone connections are expected to reach 3.4 billion by 2017, jumping from 700 million last year -- with 70 percent of phones shipped in 2017 expected to be smartphones, according to a forecast by Analysys Mason.
Windows phones (yes, they are selling somewhat) are projected to reach 136 million units by 2017 -- which would still be less than 10 percent market share, according to the forecast.
Mobile shopping will continue to rise, with almost three-fourths (72%) of consumers 20 to 40 years of age in the U.S. and U.K. already using mobile devices while in-store to compare prices, although the majority leave before making a purchase at that time, according to Accenture.
Ad spending on mobile will continue to increase based on numerous studies, with spending this year at $7 billion and $21 billion by 2016, according to eMarketer. And mobile advertising will continue to evolve, with more targeted value and location-based relevance.
My rule of thumb is that anytime someone declares that "this is the year of" something, it definitely is not the year of whatever it is they are projecting.
No one is saying this is the year of mobile retail.