When people hail the arrival of "the year of mobile" what they actually mean is "this is the year mobile will start being important/be taken seriously/make us lots of money".
The phrase has been associated with a many false dawns, but the day when mobile actually is bigger than other media consumption platforms isn't that far away, according to stats from PwC and networking infrastructure firm Ericsson.
According to PwC, spending on mobile internet access in the UK will overtake fixed line access in 2015, with mobile internet spend here reaching almost $9 billion by 2017:
And thanks to the rampant pf mobile adoption in emerging markets, globally that landmark will come a year sooner, in 2014, with mobile internet spending reaching almost $250 billion by 2017.
It is worth noting however that mobile internet advertising will still be far smaller than total internet advertising for the next few years, reaching £1.6 billion in the UK by 2017 compared to £6.4 billion for wired internet ad spend. PwC's predictions suggest the ad dollars won't be keeping pace the actual consumption or spend on access.
Connections and consumption
There is no doubt, however, over the direction of travel when it comes to internet consumption. Ericsson's latest mobility report shows that total mobile broadband subscriptions have hit 1.7 billion globally, and are predicted to reach seven billion by 2018.
The report says:
Mobile broadband will gain a larger share of total broadband subscriptions in many markets, complementing xDSL (fixed broadband) in certain segments and replacing it in others.
And you can see the growth curve of mobile broadband subscriptions below is sharper than any other kind connection.
And as the below graph shows, smartphones will continue to account for the bulk of mobile broadband.
Not only are there going to be many more connections (and thus more consumers to target on mobile) but there is going to be an even faster growth in mobile data traffic (meaning those consumers are consuming more).
According to Ericsson, mobile data traffic will grow 12 times between now and 2018, driven largely by video. As the below graph shows, a disproportionately large amount of that traffic is going to come from mobile connections from PCs, tablets and mobile routers.
What does this all mean for publishers? Mobile is soon going to be as big as fixed line internet access and it won't be long before it is the primary way your audience access the web. That means mobile should soon account for half or more of your revenue, if you want to keep pace with consumer habits.