Consumer-focused start-ups must have a mobile strategy

Businesses can no longer afford to ignore mobile-customised products, especially start-ups that aim to be at the edge of innovation. New studies throughout 2014 have demonstrated how valuable the smartphone has become for the consumer, and yet many businesses continue to lag in this key area. For investors and acquirers, hearing the word ‘mobile’ and ‘strategy’ is almost a prerequisite in a successful future plan. In fact, one can get away with a purely mobile product much more than a purely PC-based service in today’s consumer-led tech environment. Sell businesses often find it easier to find a buyer for a streamlined and cost-sensitive app, than for a multi-layered and complex website.

One-third of organic web searches now originate from mobile devices, and that number will soon pass 50%, according to several studies. Yet many enterprise software companies put little thought into how their websites perform for users on mobile devices. Research done by BrightEdge shows 72% of websites encounter issues when accessed by mobile devices – and this includes websites that  are supposedly ‘optimised’ for mobile.

According to a survey conducted by Washington, D.C-based think tank The Pew Research Institute, as of January 2014, 58% of American adults had a smartphone. Even Americans struggling to make ends meet increasingly regard smartphones as an essential: Among those with an annual household income of less than US$30,000, this figure stood at 47%. Falling prices have certainly helped to make smartphones more affordable to those on low incomes, while the proliferation of free WiFi (wireless internet) hotspots helps them to minimise their spend on mobile data.

A survey conducted in the USA during autumn 2014 by TV channel CNBC found that almost half (49%) of consumers had reduced their expenditure in other areas in order to buy such gadgets as smartphones. Around a third of respondents said they had cut back on their spending on entertainment (such as going to the cinema or eating out in restaurants), a fifth spent less on apparel, and 11% said they had reduced their expenditure on food. 10% said they had reduced their spending on healthcare.

In the UK, a survey conducted by Opinium Research during mid-2014 ranked smartphones as the seventh most important ‘modern-day essential’, ahead of pets, washing machines and chocolate. Internet access ranked first, ahead of a bath/shower. In neighbouring Ireland, a survey conducted by O2 Media during early 2014 found that 78% of those aged between 18 years and 34 years considered their smartphone to be their most important ‘screen’. 80% of this group maintained that they would sacrifice their TV, laptop and tablet before their smartphone – it is the ‘desert island’ device that they cannot live without.

 

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