In his book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, Clayton Christensen defined mobile devices as a “disruptive technology” and he couldn’t be more right.
According to Christensen, disruptive technologies create a new market that replaces pre-existing practices and hardware. With the sea of changes currently taking place in the PC industry, it’s safe to say mobile devices have permanently disrupted the technology landscape. But computer manufacturers aren’t the only ones feeling the ripples.
As consumers begin spending more time on their phones than they do on their PCs, web-based companies are racing to claim their space in the app market. According to comScore’s Mobile Future In Focus report, four out of every five mobile minutes are spent on apps. This trend has encouraged Internet giants like Facebook and Google to shift a substantial portion of their resources towards app development.
Facebook’s latest app offering, Facebook Home, debuted to lackluster reviews, but that didn’t stop their flagship app from closing out 2012 as the most-used program on American smartphones. In fact, Facebook continues to invest in mobile in a big way — as they recently exhibited by adding video sharing to their Instagram service. Not to be outdone, Google has also been busy converting popular web products, like Google Drive, into Apple and Android apps.
When media companies begin investing in mobile devices, advertising dollars follow suit. According to comScore, the average Top 25 digital media property extended its reach via mobile channels by 29% in 2012. On the high end of that average is Pandora, who increased their mobile spending by 155%, and ESPN, who hoped to capitalize on the success of their live-streaming channel, ESPN3, by investing an additional 59% in mobile.
But what makes mobile so attractive to marketers? Engagement. With mobile devices, marketers are able to reach consumers during every waking hour of their day. Whether they’re taking public transit or sitting on the couch, everyone with a smartphone or tablet is susceptible to advertisements. That’s because according to analyst Mary Meeker, people glance at their mobile devices a staggering 150 times a day.
The rise of mobile has also led to an explosion of “showrooming.” If you’re not familiar with the term, showrooming is the practice of checking out products in a store while hunting for a better price online. This morally ambiguous activity began with sites like Amazon, and boomed once consumers could use smartphones to make price comparisons on the spot. It’s no surprise that the main feature of eBay’s new Google Glass app is a showrooming tool.
Ironically, it’s technology retailers that’ve been hit hardest by showrooming. According to a study by Harris Interactive, 23% of showroomers named Best Buy as their most frequent target. And who’s profiting off Best Buy’s misfortune? It’s Amazon, who receives 66% of Best Buy’s showrooming loses.
If you think it’s hard to keep up with the latest technology innovation, just imagine what it’s like to be a policymaker. One government agency that’s constantly been challenged by technology is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Since the dawn of the always-on iPod, FAA officials have been trying to figure out what to do about the in-flight electronics policy. Thanks to the ubiquity of mobile devices, the FAA is seriously thinking about easing their restrictions on the use of electronics below 10,o00 feet.
Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, an advocate of this policy, recently said “It’s good to see the FAA may be on the verge of acknowledging what the traveling public has suspected for years — that current rules are arbitrary and lack real justification.”
Someone in D.C. must really love their iPad, and judging from the fervent use of mobile devices, it’s clear that Senator McCaskill isn’t the only one.