The (Quasi) Smartphone Revival

According to new figures released by the Wireless Smartphone Strategies service, there are now more than one billion smartphones in circulation worldwide.

As of the third quarter of 2012, one in seven people worldwide now own a smartphone, which brings the grand total to just over 1 billion smartphones worldwide. Around this time last year, there were only about 700 million smartphones in use worldwide, showing an almost 40% increase in only one year, according to Strategy Analytics.

Although the total number of smartphones active worldwide seems like a huge number, developing markets like China and India still have plenty of room for mobile growth, with Strategy Analytics predicting that smartphones will reach 2 billion active smartphone in around three years.

While smartphones may be the fastest spreading technology in human history, it’s still important to keep in mind the number of users still using feature phones as opposed to smart phones (or dumb phones, as we like to call them). With Apple as one of the most valuable companies in the world, due largely in part to the 2007 release of the highly popular iPhone, smartphones and how to connect with your customers who have them are often on people’s minds. However, it is incredibly important to keep in mind that smartphone penetration is still only around 27% worldwide, leaving the majority of mobile phone users without access to some of the “fancier” and more media rich mobile marketing efforts like mobile apps, QR codes, and push notification systems.

Even more relevant, the United States are slightly higher in smartphone penetration with around 63% of American mobile phone users having smartphones, and 37% with more simple feature phones.

At least in the United States, it’s simple for developers as smartphones are inherently ruled by Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS operating systems. Yet marketers aiming to expand their customer reach in the mobile realm will have a hard time if only aiming to reach smartphone users. As the great David Ogilvy once said:

“If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.”

It is simple for marketers to become distracted by the shiny new marketing mediums available with the wide range of capabilities smartphones offer, but is important for brands and businesses to keep in mind where their customers pay their attention.

That’s what makes a multi-faceted mobile marketing approach so much more successful. No successful business will be okay with only target 63% of their customers with any given marketing medium when the capability to reach 100% of your customer base is available, and that is exactly what makes mobile marketing and SMS messaging a perfect pair.

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