The Mobile Marketing Association‘s newly released study in the U.S., “MMA Mobile Marketing Economic Impact Study,” measured mobile’s contribution to economic output in the U.S. The study found that mobile contributed $139 billion to the U.S. economy in 2012. Mobile’s influence was felt across a number of categories including employment opportunities created; spend on mobile advertising, and mobile sales. It helped create over 500,000 jobs in the U.S. last year, despite of the unstable economic environment that affected the nation. A whopping $6.7 billion was spent on mobile marketing and the finance, retail, and manufacturing industries had the highest level of mobile expenditure. Interestingly, these industries also created the most mobile related jobs in the market. The contribution of mobile to the overall economy is only set to hit the $400 billion mark by 2015.
The impact of mobile on Asia’s economies has been similarly dramatic. Rapid development of the mobile communications industry has resulted in high penetration rates in many markets. Widespread economic benefits for national economies have come through value-added services, employment, and productivity improvements. Mobile has allowed individuals, companies, and governments in Asia to innovate like never before; and the region that has often been slow to adopt technology for reasons such as high costs and lack of education has taken to mobile with great ease.
An interesting point to note is that China, South Korea, and India now lead the world in mobile commerce adoption. A study by GlobalWebIndex showed that, 55 percent of internet users in China made a purchase via a mobile phone in the last quarter of 2012. In comparison, only 19 percent of internet users in the United States actively made a mobile purchase at the same time. Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand have also not been left behind and have shown double digit rates of mobile commerce adoption.
The main reason for the high adoption of mobile commerce is the vast majority of users in Asia who gained their first access to the internet via mobile as opposed to desktop computers. Bypassing older technologies, they have a greater affinity, reliance and preference for mobile devices. Mobile commerce aside, a more mobile driven business environment is also being seen as technologies such as cloud and big data start to become integrated with mobile. The lines of time, geography, and industry silos have been blurred, changing the way we do business and interact with each other.
It is clear that mobile has had a remarkable impact on the business landscape. What is unexpected is how the power of mobile has been harnessed to provide solutions to the unique socio-economic challenges faced by Asia’s emerging markets. Mobile apps have been used as a platform to provide remote healthcare services, banking facilities to rural areas, and educational resources and materials. It is this technology-enabled approach that is leading to faster and more sustainable change in many under-developed parts of Asia.
Addressing socio-economic issues through mobile will remain an important aspect of mobile’s contribution to Asian economies. The next step in mobile’s growth will bring technologies such as augmented reality into the market as well as see wider implementation of near-field communication technologies. It remains to be seen how we can make use of these technologies across industries in order to address the broader social and economic issues that are so unique to the Asian consumer.