Graham Christie
Sep 30, 2013

The mobile hub: Responsive design, new iPhones, proximity payments, more

Graham Christie, partner with Big Mobile Group, returns with his monthly roundup of thought food for mobile marketers.

Graham Christie
Graham Christie

Smartphone and tablet report

Adobe has re-distributed a modest but useful study spanning six countries including two APAC markets. ‘The State Of Mobile Benchmark’ report, part of their Digital Index, puts some numbers to what many digital marketers believe. Of particular interest I thought is that one third of all likes on Facebook now occur via a mobile device (US). The report can be downloaded at

More smartphone research from Nielsen

Smartphone users in Southeast Asia spend on average, more than three hours per day on their devices. So says an insights piece, ’The Asian Mobile Consumer Decoded’, from Nielsen (also available as a webinar—perfect lunch munch content). Device ownership is reaching saturation across key markets including Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore, and Malaysia, and this underlines the regions claims as now becoming the world’s biggest mobile ecosystem. One area of particular momentum is video viewership, where mobile users are viewing content 10 times per week on average across APAC, and this significantly indexes higher in Hong Kong and Singapore markets. Look for Newswire.

Main players re-booting ad businesses

This month has seen Facebook, Twitter, Skype and Apple make enhancements to their mobile ad platforms. Individually they are noteworthy. Collectively the trend represents a real boost for brands, and shows the single-minded intent big audience owners now have. Apple’s initiative revolves around iTunes radio and is a competitive play rather than being a game-changer, against Pandora which is dominant in the US and enjoining real momentum in it’s second market of Australia. All of these propositions will need to be clear, uncluttered, with a sensible cost of entry to attract scale. That equation has been elusive for some of these protagonists in the past.

Mobile websites

The arguments around responsive design seem to grow louder. Responsive design, the ability for web content to render appropriately to a device and software version automatically, has been a seductive idea for a while now. And with so few leading brands (~15 per cent), having a genuine 365-day-a-year mobile destination, this gap undoubtedly needs to be filled.

But the fact there are arguments about it is enough to make some nervous. The priority must be the consumer, and their experience and the ability of the solution to communicate well. We know that a consumer is more particular about a tablet experience than desktop, and yet more particular about a smartphone experience, so adopting a solution that trades efficiencies with effectiveness is not a good starting point.

That having been said though, the advances in technologies like HTML5 will see improvements. Whether these improvements will keep pace with the complexities of an expanding device landscape and growing Android legacy software issue, is unknown.  Seek informed advice before committing budgets.

iPhone 5S & 5C

I bet Tim Cook is sniggering. Much of the tech industry were happy to predict that Apple had lost it’s mojo with the recent iPhone launches being heralded as the least innovative. Well, as we know, Apple enjoyed its biggest launch weekend, selling 9 million units. The company’s stock price went up by US$23, as did shares of some tech companies involved directly and even indirectly with smartphones.

The cheaper of Apple's two new models, the 5C, launched at a higher price point across markets than expected, however. This supports Apple’s premium positioning, but I think it means the company will continue to struggle in the big emerging Asian markets it says it’s wanting to do better in. The 5C represents between 40 and 60 per cent of a white collar worker's monthly income in emerging markets, so it feels like a big task to effectively attack Android’s market share, which is itself being fuelled by more credible locally manufactured products. Sales data that splits the two models had not been published at the time of writing.

APAC ad spend and mobile

This month, the research and insights group eMarketer in its collaboration with Starcom Mediavest, has shared some forecasts for the region. Advertisers spending on mobile internet ads, including display and search but excluding messaging-based format, is expected to reach US$4.14 billion across the region this year, up from US$2.68 billion last year. This will mean that APAC represents over 25 cents of every dollar spent globally in mobile. (Campaign Asia-Pacific posted some of the key data points from this study last week.)

Proximity payments

The so-called proximity payment sector is reviewed by Forester (US) in its ‘Mobile Payments Forecast 2013-2017’ report. It shows mobile payments are set to grow faster than ever in the next few years, reaching a US$90 billion market by 2017. This is an upbeat report pointing to the desire on both sides, (consumers and retailers alike), to leverage mobile wallet capabilities and propositions, to enhance in-store POS. 

If you’re having a feeling of déjà vu here, you’re not alone. It’s been a long-held promise that of mobile and POS, and it’s coming, sloooooowly. It will be a market-by-market thing however. Consumers across APAC vary wildly in their predisposition toward the perceived strength of payment security, and retailers are famously hesitant to match Annual General Meeting voiced rhetoric about ‘the future’, with proactivity around the terminals and hardware that make it happen.

The speed of change is building though, and it must, as for instance in the fashion apparel segment, 85 per cent of shoppers are walking out of stores having looked but not purchased. So it’s either get mobile working better and build a purchase pathway, or try to re-negotiate your commercial lease with your landlord based on a ‘cost per transaction’ model. I’d put more effort in the former of the two scenarios—it’s the more likely to happen.

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