In August 2012, Google published its famous Multiscreen Study, which stated that for the average user, cycling between smartphone, tablet, and desktop throughout the day is the norm. In hindsight this seems obvious, but at the end of 2012 it was a revelation; this landmark publication made us realize it's really about multiple screens, lots of them, and often several at once.
A little over a year later, we've accepted that we live in a multi-screen world and that mobile means more than smartphones. Marketers are actually planning their strategies for smartwatches, social machines, and Google Glass, and thinking a lot more about content in context across multiple interfaces.
Before long, the word mobile might go away altogether as the lines blur between our online and offline lives. But for now, let's use it to put this past year into perspective.
The Essential Mobile Numbers
2012 wasn't a bad year for mobile itself – data traffic from smartphones and tablets grew 69 percent over the previous year, and mobile data hit 13 percent of all global Internet traffic, according to Stat Counter. Without question, 2013 will prove to be much, much bigger than 2012. It might take a little more time for us to get the full picture of how this year played out, but we still have a few data points to work with, such as:
Global smartphone data hit 20 percent of all Internet traffic as of December 2013. (ComputerWorld)
Tablets are only 5 percent of global traffic but given adoption rates, are likely to account for a significantly bigger share next year. (StatCounter)
One out of 5 global citizens owns a smartphone and one out of 17 owns a tablet (Business Insider)
64.7 percent of U.S. wireless subscribers own a smartphone (Nielsen), 35 percent of U.S. consumers over 16 own a tablet, and 24 percent own an eReader. (Pew)
Mobile devices accounted for 40 percent of all online traffic on Black Friday and one-third of all online traffic on Cyber Monday. Those numbers are all the more impressive when you consider that it was 4 percent in 2010, making for an increase of 700 percent in just three years. (IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark).
So mobile accounts for at least 20 percent of our online time (for now). But the really important point is how fast it all happened; according to NPD tablets are expected to outsell laptops and desktops in Q4 2013. That's 46 percent year-over-year growth in the U.S. Tablets aren't expected to outsell laptops and desktops globally until 2015 (IDC). Of course, smartphones overtook feature phone sales in the US a long time ago (Q1 2013 to be precise) and with 17 million smartphones and tablets unboxed last Christmas, it's safe to say we'll be ending this year an even higher note.
Blackberry Continued to Fight for Survival
Blackberry spent 2013 waging a battle to recapture its once-loyal fan base. Renamed "The Blackberry Company" early in the year, its bold moves including hiring musician Alicia Keyes as Creative Director and rolling out the first Blackberry 10 OS smartphones.
But it was all too little, too late. The company began exploring a sale by August. A $965 million dollar quarterly loss left little choice.
By November, CEO Thorsten Heins was ousted and former Sybase exec John Chen stepped in as chief executive, taking the company off the market in a last attempt to turn things around with $1 billion in private investment. But with third quarter projections looking dismal, it seems increasingly likely that the brand is headed for the dustbin of mobile device history.
Microsoft Made an Effort to Change With the Times
In August, CEO Steve Balmer announced plans to cede control to a board-selected replacement in 2014. However, before leaving, he approved significant investments in Microsoft's mobile assets, including a 7 billion dollar purchase of Nokia and oversaw the successful release of Windows 8.1, arguably the first mobile-first multi-screen operating system.
While Microsoft still lags far behind Apple and Android, slow and steady growth of Windows device shipments was evident by Q2 2013 with Microsoft coming in third for smartphone marketshare at 3.7 percent and third for tablets at 3.4 percent.
Windows may still have its work cut out for it with tablets – the Surface has its share of flaws – but with Nokia's design resources now in house, it's possible we'll see some improvements. Odds are they will hold their own in 2014 with a tiny but respectable slice of the market.
Wearables Entered the Realm of Reality
AdWords Enhanced Campaigns Forced Us to go All-in on Mobile
'Social Machines' and 'Internet of Things' Became Part of the Lexicon
Snapchat Made Us Think Differently About Messaging – and Privacy
Leap Motion Made Us Think Differently About Navigation
Believe it or not, this is still the early days, your chance to catch up and figure out your whole game plan for a mobile, multi-screen world. By the end of 2014, this will all be very old news.