Mobile And Video Call Use Rises, But At What Environmental Cost?

COVID-19 fueled the need for remote communication services in 2020.

This trend, along with using more mobile apps, seems that it will not slow down even when marketers and others return to traveling. How will online marketers think about cutting carbon emissions in 2021?

Juniper Research found mobile video calls reached 1.8 billion globally in 2020, rising from 1.2 billion in 2019. The study, Mobile Voice & Video Calling: Operator Strategies, Vendor Opportunities & Market Forecasts 2021-2025, predicts the number of mobile video calls will reach 4.5 billion users by 2025, representing 50% of global mobile subscribers.

The report estimates North America and Europe will experience the greatest increase. By 2025, more than 70% of mobile subscribers in these two regions will use mobile video.

Using more technology means increased carbon emissions, despite President Joe Biden’s determination to cut America's carbon output, including oil, gas and coal, halting projects like the Keystone XL pipeline and imposing new limits on oil.

The petroleum industry revived television ads, released in October 2020, promoting drilling on federal lands. The ad notes that “accessing energy on federal land adds millions to state budgets.”

While the idea is to help communities shift from coal and other fossil fuels to green energy, online technology like video calls continue to produce carbon emissions, which is why companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and others have vowed to become carbon neutral businesses.

Marketers who want to protect the environment can help by leaving their video camera off during calls. Leaving the camera off during a video call can cut the environmental impact by up to 96%, according to a study from Purdue University.

The study estimates that an hour of videoconferencing or streaming emits between 150 and 1,000 grams of carbon dioxide. It also uses up to 12 liters of water and an area of land around the size of an iPad mini. It also shows that streaming videos in standard definition rather than high definition may result in an 86% reduction.

Video-calling apps aren’t the only types spewing carbon emissions. In 2020, all types of non-game subscription-based apps became popular.

In fact, global consumer spending in the top 100 non-game subscription-based apps grew to $13 billion in 2020, up 34% year-on-year from the $9.7 billion spent in 2019, according to data from Sensor Tower. The increase accounted for 11.7% of the $111 billion that consumers spent on in-app purchases last year.

The top 100 subscription apps globally on the App Store rose 32%, generating $10.3 billion in 2020. The top 100 earning apps on Google Play rose 42%, generating $2.7 billion last year. YouTube was the top subscription app across both Google Play and the App Store.

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