2014 is the year which was moved by mobile and its users. This write-up discusses some of those important trends and impacts.
Economy was driven by Mobile
Last year the imminent switch happened in terms of digital transactionswith virtually all consumer services today embracing mobile. Almost all the ecommerce companies generated more money from mobile consumers than PC users thanks to the exponentially growing users of mobile internet. What took the nation to surprise was the sheer volume of the traffic and transactions that this handheld device generated. Several e-commerce companies from taxis to restaurants to shopping have stated that 70 per cent of their transactions came from mobile.
Apps, Apps and Apps ruled mobile and beyond
India is perhaps the only country where every other ad on TV or mobile called users for downloading one or the other app. While apps have shown a shift in terms of business, they have also won a war of native vs browser war at least for the time being. App distributions easily account for 70% of all media spends and traffic around mobile.
Android marches ahead and Indian companies
One of the reasons for mobile to come to forefront of economy and mobile apps to become important is the growth and affordability of android phones. With virtually all Chinese companies entering India, we not only had huge drop in the price points, but quantum leap in the capability of the devices. Smartphone war multi-folded with Xiaomi and Gionee getting in to the race and 2015 may well be the year when PCs become even more irrelevant.
Mobile drove elections
One of the interesting trend that we saw last year was the role of mobile in the elections. Mobile along with Twitter and Facebook virtually incubated and nurtured all the discussions and debates. Political parties competed to reach consumers on their mobile through all possible mechanisms and party that got it right finally went on to win the elections.
Growth of messaging apps like WhatsApp shook quite a few incumbents. Messaging apps have almost made SMS irrelevant and might create a similar challenge for voice calls. Messaging apps are also driving whole lot of traffic away from social networks forcing Facebook to buy WhatsApp by paying unheard of valuation for a non-revenue generating startup. What is more interesting would be to see how even email gets disrupted by the new age messaging apps.
Funding innovation and entrepreneurship
Last year saw investors chasing ecommerce and payment companies driving valuations and money in to the industry. Last year saw the acceptance of mobile for driving transactions for online and offline services. Online services are moving mobile first and making it the primary business driver for quite a lot of industries.
Not everything in mobile had a dream run
2014 was yet another year for quite a lot of unfilled promises of the mobile world. Slow networks continue to be the bigger challenges for growth of mobile apps than anything else. We saw yet another year when brands failed to embrace mobile advertising. Mobile advertising spends continue to revolve around big three inventories and hardly got the innovative boost it required. Publishers continue to be challenged by lower rates and lack of priority.
Overall 2014 was a great year for mobile for users and businesses that embraced it. If Indian economy does well in 2015, we can confidently say that mobile will have a great role to play in that.
The author is Suresh Narasimha, CEO, TELiBrahma