Mobile’s new best friends – playing nicely?

MDA AnalystsWhile the title of the annual market analyst forum suggested a certain current harmony between the cloud, social media and analytics, a series of analyst viewpoints indicated that the developing multi-device landscape might be a little more complicated.


The Mobile Data Association, in association with the ICT Knowledge Transfer Network, presented its 2013 Market Analysts forum on October 29th, entitled “Mobile’s new best friends – cloud, social and analytics”.

Deloitte’s decade of devices

First up at City University, Cornelia Calugar-Pop from Deloitte addressed the audience about ‘the decade of devices’, using the analyst’s well established mobile consumer survey.  Among the statistics, graphs and numbers, was the telling line that combined smartphone and tablet revenues will exceed revenues for the whole consumer electronics market in 2013.

Such profound device dominance was used to suggest a ‘perfect calm’ across the landscape, an idea that all is currently settled in our behaviours and use of devices – and this will imminently be underlined with growing comfort in 4G mobile services.  This viewpoint was strongly challenged in a later presentation.

comScore and the multi-screen world

Hesham Al-Jehani of comScore focused on mobile digital consumerism in a multi-device landscape.  After using behavioural data to underline how the fourth screen culture is supported by the distractible evening audience, Al-Jehani delivered us into a world of statistics around operating systems and OEMs.

The tablet landscape might now be more fragmented with low cost challengers to the iPad eating into its market share, but according to Al-Jehani it is important to understand the user and not just the device.  A person-level view is required.  Of 47million unduplicated individual web users in the UK, five per cent exclusively use the internet from mobile devices.  The day of the desktop is dwindling, particularly for a number of easily mobile functions.

CCS Insight and changing user attitudes

Following a coffee break, Martin Garner from CCS Insight took the stage.  Through a lens of changing user attitudes, Garner took issue with the earlier notion of a perfect calm by conducting a quick survey of the audience, expertly calculating 4.2 connected devices per audience member.  The suggestion was that our devices are many and various and always evolving along with our behaviours.

Smartphones saw the beginning of behaviour shifts, with more people doing more things and growing into smartphone use.  The powerful trend of “appification” has amplified changes in behaviour and led us to a current tipping point where suppliers are fuelling users’ expectations.

Inextricably linked to changing behaviour is the growth of context services, harnessing cloud, big data and location information.  According to Garner, their development will herald further complication to the lives of app users, and demand that brands’ back-end systems are more sophisticated, with more intelligent content delivery, tracking and analytics.

Quocirca: social + mobile = personal cloud

Rob Bamforth of Quocirca began with a recurring theme: the decline of the desk as we know it.  In simplifying a common workplace question, he dismissed the much promoted idea of BYOD (bring your own devices), in favour of the simplified WIGIWIU (what I’ve got is what I’ll use).  This was supported by the observation that 21st Century attitudes appear very hard-nosed and proprietary.  We are protective and possessive about our devices and don’t want to share them with anybody.

Younger generations might be more open to the idea of wearable technology – a market that is proving very hard for analysts to size, but Bamforth said that finding appropriate applications is vital.

Much of the closing question and answer panel focused on data security, particularly in light of recent controversy surrounding the security of German chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone.  A consensus of sorts was reached that the industry could and should do more about security.  While there ostensibly appears to be an environment of social freedom and openness, there remains an undercurrent of sensitivity and nervousness.

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As ever, the annual Market Analysts forum provided much fascinating material to ponder, together with a broad spread of informed opinions from both the speakers and an engaged audience.

Presentations indicated that the multi-device landscape is here to stay, for the moment, with wearable technology unlikely to rock our worlds any time soon.  Behaviours will continue to evolve, and services need to keep pace.  Might the multi-screen landscape experience a seismic shift, a technological earthquake of sorts, thanks to the introduction of an as yet unknown medium? Projection, gestural interfaces, an emerging new technology?  Watch this space.

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