Just last year the Indian government decided to implement a program to bring the world’s cheapest tablet device to the population. This to drive increased use of the Internet by it’s citizens. A brilliant move. A Canadian manufacturer won that bid. This signalled a radical change that will begin to have a significant global impact into 2012. In ways that go far beyond the world of consumerism and brands.
2012 Will Be The Year of Mobile. So what?
Nothing new in that proclomation is there? Every pundit and forecaster is saying the same thing. Yet it is true. The impact however, is not just on the world of brands and presenting yet another challenge to marketers, it is more about the impact on the developing world and in regards to how we live and connect as humans globally. As millions of devices spill into the market with high-end devices in developed nations, the developing nations will suddenly have access to a whole new world of content and learning…and engagement.
The Nature of Mobile Content in Social Media
Our research has shown us that engagement in mobile devices is different for social media. For the most part, the most popular form of content created is images via cameras, followed by sharing of other content created more often by non-mobile devices such as PC’s or in media facilities. Very little text content is generated beyond essentially, that of a “tweet” or 140 characters. It is the exception, not the rule, for long blog posts to be written on a smartphone or tablet like the iPad or Galaxy.
The Nature of Mobile Engagement in Social Media
Engagement – or actual interaction on social media services tends to be shorter than on a PC or fixed-device, even a laptop. While laptop computers are mobile, we don’t really classify them as such as they are not “instant-on” or “always-on” devices like tablets and smartphones. The primary purposes of engagement in social media with mobile devices is 1) status updating & checking 2) planning & organising for social or business meetings 3) sharing content from another in ones network or received from another and 4) sharing images and videos. We anticipate significant increases in the sharing of live and streaming video of everything from music concerts to protests like the Occupy movement.
Civil Society & Mobile Device Use
The protests of 2012 will be lively and they will be shared in still and moving image form unlike ever before. This increased sharing will result in either bigger and longer-lasting protests or smaller protests where people can observe and don’t feel the need to participate. More likely we will see wider spread use of these devices in the areas of change for civil society. One risk is the possibility of more “staged events” by protestors and activists such as acts of vandalism or stunts to generate increased awareness. This may present a new challenge to corporations and policing services trying to maintain some form of healthy expression of democratic rights.
The Societal Debates Will Increase
As a result of the use of these mobile devices in civil society by populations for change and democratic expression, we anticipate even more debates around privacy and civil actions. Governments in democracies can no longer just hit a “kill switch” for risk of facing significant outrage by the public. Carriers and content providers will increasingly ask citizens and consumers to give up more of their privacy and that will spark even further debate.
The Mobile World Is Upon Us
So no doubt that significant changes are coming as more and more people are connected. Consumers have found their voice regarding engagement with brands. Now the consumer as a citizen may very well find their voice for changes in society; good and bad. Over 2 Billion humans connect to the Internet today. With the rapid spread of mobile devices, a far lower infrastructure cost than landlines, increased data rates of mobile service providers and ease of use of these devices, the game is truly on in 2012 into 2015 and beyond. An additional challenge for governments and corporations will be capturing useful insights out of the ever increasing and vast amounts of data available online.