Is Mobile – the most important area Startup’s could be involved in to be successful?

If you don’t have an idea for a business can you really start a business? Perhaps, this idea misses the point. Maybe it isn’t enough to just Make Your Passion A Success(as my first book promoted.) Could the answer be in our hands all along, could the answer be mobile?

Maybe we should be quite simply, as Reid Hoffman’s Start up of You book highlights, be looking at which area we can give the market (i.e. the global community) what they want, in a way that they want it, in a way that only we can do, in a way that will pay, without risking too much of our future upon it.

Reid is really talking about individuals here. But it transfers over to start up businesses to. So to put this more succinctly, in which areas can more start-ups start up from where they might be more likely to succeed?

Can we be a nation of shopkeepers?

It’s a well publicised fact the UK is more and more a services community. It’s what we do. It’s almost like Napoleon was right when he stated – Britain is a nation of shopkeepers*2. But can we all start shops? Not really. Not typical shops. Not a million more, small corner shops please! The only way we could all start shops is to do so online and export our products (both not bad ideas…) but the problem inherent with retail is the need of something to sell, from which to make profit from. We can’t all become ebay millionaires as much as we can’t all start our own coal mines – without beds of coal underneath us and rather a lot of finance.

Can we all make cupcakes?

So what can we do? Where is the next boundless resource? Is there such a thing? If the internet cannot provide us all with jobs for the future what will?

To answer this, the British PLC, will need to invest into something which has a couple of key elements.

–          Local and Global appeal.

–          Drivers to create a profitable marketplace. 

–          A high growth potential and the ability to scale.

–          A somewhat proven track record.

Mobile – ironically, the quietest revolution in the world.

Into this affray I give you Mobile Marketing. A simple opportunity for our country to become a market leader, this is therefore a call to arms if you will or rather a call to apps.

Mobile creation has a potential for the next generation to become skilled in the new advanced manufacturing, the new creative potential of a new economy. Not bound by border or region but rather by ability and style. Start up’s which can start up with a couple of 1000’s pounds. Start ups that can scale due to the global platforms that the ecosystem sits on. With businesses that already have customers waiting for products and in market places already established with secure payments and recognised structures. It is a dream opportunity. But one which has caught the UK napping?  

Why we sleep through the opportunity of a 1000 lifetimes.

One of the biggest problems for mobile is that the revolution is already happening, its is going on whilst we sleep, literally, it is already global. It is like nothing that has gone before…. Or isn’t it?

Many more astute people will have realised that mobile marketing, app creation, HTLM5 development and all the extras which are attached (in this I do include social platform API’s and aggregators as well as app creators) has followed a similar path as web development less than a decade or so ago. And this is true. However, the drivers today for adoption of this revolution will combine its potential tenfold. Why?

Local and Global appeal.

Around the end of 2011, the UK reached tipping point with over 50% smartphone penetration. Comscore data from January this year shows how that is distributed by age and income.  But unlike the first computers, and the first pioneers of the web, such smartphones have the highest penetration in the 18-34 age group. Giving this revolution a youthful feel but is this a global opportunity?

There are 5.9 billion mobile subscribers (that’s 87 percent of the world population*1). Growth is led by China and India, which now account for over 30 percent of world subscriptions. There are twice as many mobile phones on the planet as toothbrushes – which is a scary dental thought.

But on a positive, there are now 1.2 billion mobile Web users worldwide, based on the latest stats for active mobile-broadband subscriptions worldwide; Asia is top region. With South Korea and Japan leading in mobile broadband penetration with 91% and 88% respectively. Even in the US 25 percent of mobile Web users are mobile-only. But does this give us enough to base a new economy on? Which other economic pillars would we need to place to manage the success of this opportunity?

Strong Foundations without the need for expensive infrastructure. 

The drivers of mobile Web and mobile media are:

(i) Web-enabled handsets – by 2012, over 85 percent of new handsets will be able to access the mobile Web. In US and W. Europe, it is already surpassed that. Lots of new handsets support 3G (fast Internet).

 (ii) High-speed mobile networks – almost one in five global mobile subscribers have access to fast mobile Internet (3G or better).

(iii) Unlimited data plans – Widespread availability of unlimited data plans drove mobile media in Japan, now it’s driving the US; but in W. Europe, lack of availability is holding up progress.  But again, with deals like the free wireless access offered during the Olympics and successful trials of $G in places like Cornwall we can see this becoming a much lower barrier for adoption in Europe.

And as an opportunity, we want this to be more about exporting apps and creativity rather than consuming it in our home markets. We want to lead the charge globally as well as internally adopting the technology.

A high growth potential and the ability to scale.

We are at the moment when mobiles that can access the internet will outnumber PC computers. Apple famously ships many more ipads and iphones than MAC’s and this is just the start. With other big names such as Google and Microsoft all entering the mobile and tablet space – this is just the beginning. And with the lack of any really high expense in infrastructure i.e. compared to roads and internet cables, the wireless and mobile marketing opportunities might be just as big in sub Saharan Africa as they are in Stoke on Trent or Solihull.

But are advertiser and the larger marketing community worldwide starting to use mobile marketing and apps to advertise on? As without the money to water the new idea there will be no strong foundation for developers or the emerging ecosystem. This is similar, to the fact that without pay per click advertising the web revolution, especially for Google, would have stayed a university proposition.

You do not have to look far for the answers as millions of pounds is heading into mobile advertising. Ad Network Millennial Media, one of the leading platform research agencies, has just published its new SMART report for 2011.  The data kicks off with what’s happening in terms of spending by different verticals, and reports that technology is leading the way by growth.

From 2011 to 2012, nine verticals experienced triple digit growth year-over-year, with Health, Fitness & Wellness a new entrant thanks to growth of 229 per cent. Finance was actually the number one vertical in terms of total spend, and raised its total by 314 per cent. Retail/restaurants came second, with entertainment third.

But where are all these advertising dollars from around the world pointing to? SMART found that more than half of all campaigns sent users to a mobile website in 2011 with 53 per cent. App downloads contributed 25 per cent, and landing pages 22 per cent. Which is all very well but what we really also need is…

A somewhat proven track record.

And luckily for us America, gives this to us. As the mobile app industry in the USA has created close to half a million jobs, according to the findings of a new report released this week.

According to a report commissioned by CEO network TechNet, the US app industry has been found to have more than 466,000 jobs having built itself up from zero as recently as five years ago.

The data finds that California — the home of Silicon Valley — is unsurprisingly the top state for app-based jobs, accounting for one quarter of them. New York is said to be the top metro area with just short of 10 percent of all positions based there, though the report claims that the industry’s jobs are well spread across the country.

The industry is also bringing economic benefits and the report concludes that last year, it produced $20 billion in revenue, with Apple’s App Store alone registered as having 124,475 active publishers adding content to it.

The app development industry is providing more jobs than a number of other tech industries, according to the report, with software publishing, telecom carriers and others areas trailing it.

But is there an area where startup’s making mobile apps could concentrate on?

One of the greatest bits of news from the last couple of months is that we do not have to go far to find a nice fertile testing ground for this new area of creativity as the UK is the place to be for Mobile Marketing…. in Europe… which itself has the biggest increase in smartphone penetration in 2011 – 2012.

The great news for all potential UK mobile marketers / creators is that a recent study of over 4,000 mobile device users has found that the UK is the most receptive market within major European economies. The research also found that UK consumers were more receptive than even their American counterparts.

So what do we need to do?

–          Start investing in the next generation of developers.

–          Invest our tax money into supporting ecosystems that help mobile entrepreneurs.

–          Create new ideas which can be made into apps.

–          Showcase UK success stories in the industry to show that is can be done.

–          Outsource to or build inhouse teams of develops to make the apps.

–          Use the already established platforms to leverage the global opportunity.


 Editors notes:

*1 Start up of You –

*2 This is nothing against shopkeepers but rather the word – Shopkeep – as this really does say something about that tradition i.e. a keeper of the shop – not a proactive marketing person. Which might be why many shops are finding it hard to stay afloat.



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