Commentary

Mobile Biz Mature, Consumers Try To Temper Smartphone's Magic Pull

From Facebook to phone-makers to publishers to app developers, the entire mobile industry is essentially dedicated to one goal: getting people to stare at their phones for a long as humanly possible.

As Sean Parker admitted the other week: “The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them … was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’”

Yet, as new research suggests, people are at least trying to exert some control over their behavior.

For example, about half (47%) of U.S. consumers now report making a conscious effort to reduce or limit their smartphone usage -- mostly by keeping their gadgets out of sight, or disabling various attention-seeking features.

That’s according to Deloitte’s 2017 “Global Mobile Consumer Survey,” which included feedback from roughly 2,000 U.S. consumers.

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This conscious resistance may explain why the rate at which people are looking at their phones has remained nearly constant for the past three years -- at about 47 times a day -- despite the mobile industry’s ever-louder siren song.

Not all consumers are having such success, however. Consumers aged 18-to-24 now check their phones an average of 86 times a day, up from 82 times in 2016.

That’s not surprising, considering that marketers and app developers spend most of their time and money trying to get into the mind of these young folks.

Across demographics, mobile use is massive.

 Collectively, 264 million Americans now use their mobile phones 12 billion times a day, and 75% do so within 30 minutes of waking up.

This year, meanwhile, smartphone penetration reached 82% overall -- with consumers aged 18-to-24 having the highest penetration, at an incredible 93%.

And, while the industry is maturing in many respects, you can still find serious growth in key areas like ecommerce.

 Indeed, mPayments continued to gain popularity, with 29% of consumers reporting making an in-store mobile payment -- up nearly 50% from 2016, and a 50% increase in consumers who now use mPayments on a weekly basis.

Craig Wigginton, vice chairman and telecommunications sector leader at Deloitte, says the industry should be most thrilled by consumers’ openness to the whole “internet of things” thing, along with faster Internet speeds.

“Our survey reveals that, even as smartphone use begins to mature, we may be on the precipice of the next generation of mobile, as loT applications and services capture consumer interest and the global race to 5G takes hold,” Wigginton notes.

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