The growing influence of mobile is something that is hard to ignore. While smartphones were once considered a luxury, these handheld internet-capable devices are now a mainstay in peoples’ lives around the world. The changing landscape is not only apparent when reviewing current usage statistics and predictive analytics, but can also be best understood by taking a closer look at the role that mobile has taken in the overall field of technology. The excitement surrounding mobile technology provides a unique opportunity for libraries to maximize their relevance and most effectively cater to the audiences they serve.
In the year 2014, nearly three billion people were online, a tremendous increase from 2000, when just under .5 billion were connected. While the explosive growth is shocking in and of itself, what may be even more surprising is that about two billion of those people connected via smartphone. While smartphones already account for a substantial portion of internet connectivity, their prominence is only expected to increase. By the year 2020, the number of people connected via smartphone is poised to equal the number of people online at a whopping four billion people.
Going along with the increase in internet and smartphone usage is the decreasing percentage of folks that are without access to the internet or without a smartphone. While the number of unconnected people has been steadily decreasing since the mid-1990’s, the percentage of those without smartphone has been on a sharp decline since about 2009. While about 90% of people or more were without a smartphone in 2009, that percentage has gone down by about 40% in just the last five years. That number is expected to drop even lower to about 30% in the year 2017. By 2020, 80% of the adults on the earth are expected to have a smartphone.
One might anticipate that with the increasing prominence of smartphones, there would be a corresponding increase in the amount of time spent on those devices for internet usage. This has been a noticeable pattern as well. While, on average, about 500 minutes were spent on the web on desktops in June of 2013, about 500 more were spent accessing the web via mobile. Just one year later, that number remained the same for desktops, but increased by 750 minutes for mobile. Interestingly, the vast majority of that growth can be accounted for by native mobile app usage, which jumped from about 400 minutes to about 600 minutes. Other studies have reported similar conclusions, indicating that 90% of mobile device user time is spent in native app environments.
These numbers can be expected to grow going forward not only due to increasing number of smartphones being used, but also due to the significantly higher potential for mobile sophistication. Their versatility, accessibility, and intuitive user experience keep mobile in the spotlight and have enabled them to meet needs that other areas of technology previously had exclusive influence over. While it stands to reason that personal computers are being bought in smaller numbers and less frequently than smart phones, mobile technology is shifting into other territory as well, like photography. Eighty billion photos were taken on film in 1999, but 800 billion photos were shared on social networks via mobile. While photography might not have direct applications to libraries, the trend is clear: mobile technology is playing an increasingly active role in our lives. Mobile phones and mobile apps are in the forefront of peoples’ minds and, with an effective mobile strategy, your library can be too.
If you’re an academic library – going native can help foster academic success or even drive student retention rates. If you’re a public library – it can help you increase circulation, usage of services, and bring new patrons to your library. Corporate libraries can benefit as well from this mobile world, as mobile apps can help drive efficiency and save money. To learn more about how to generate enthusiasm, drive engagement, and boost usage with a native mobile app for your library, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.