Snapshop of smart phone and Internet trends

Several useful Australian and international reviews of communications and social media statistics and trends were published this week.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority had ACMA Communications report 2011–12, table by the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and well-known US Internet watcher published her latest overview.

ACMA described the last year as a “continual advance of the digital economy, with increased take-up of digital communications and the rollout of key infrastructure such as the NBN and 4G mobile networks.”

A startling indicator is the number of mobile services operating in Australia—30.2 million at June 2012 for a population of 22.8 million! Not surprisingly, use of smartphones and mobile internet are key drivers—smartphone users reached 49 per cent of total adults at May 2012, up from 25 per cent at June 2011.

Australia is one of the top 5 countries for smart phone penetration rates. According to Mary Meeker’s latest global review Australian ranks 4th of the 25 countries with more than 8 million smart phone customers, with only Japan (65%) Korea (59%) and Canada (55%) ahead. USA is at 48%.

Internationally and in the USA Meeker reports robust Internet growth and rapid smart phone adoption (with much more to come).

Globally mobile’s share of Internet traffic is up from 4% in December 2010 ago to 13% in December 2012 – it has more than tripled in 23 months. In the USA 24% of online purchases were made on a mobile device (phone or tablet) for the Black Friday sales. In India mobile internet traffic overtook desktop traffic in May 2012; Meeker predicts other countries will soon follow. Sales of smartphones and tablets have exceeded desktops and notebooks for 18 months and the installed baseof phones/tablets will exceed desktops/notebooks sometime next year.

Meeker reports 1 billion active global Facebook users; In Australia Social Media News reports Facebook grew 255,000 in November 2012 to 11.75 million (64% of the 18.4 million people over 14 years of age).

Meeker identifies a $20b “gap’ in advertising revenue on phones compared to other media. This could create opportunities for businesses that may or may not be in consumers interests. Two thirds of current revenue from mobiles comes from in-app purchases – concerns have lead the Commonwealth to ask the Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Committee to conduct an inquiry into the experiences of Australian consumers with downloading apps, including free and paid apps, and making in-app purchases, on mobile phone and handheld devices.

Some other key Australian numbers from ACMA’s review:

  • A 3% growth in mobile services was driven by increased take-up of mobile wireless and mobile handset internet services (mobile internet), with subscribers increasing by 22 per cent
  • Telstra increased its share of mobile services to 46%, and launched its first commercial 4G service. At June 2012, its 4G network covered 40 per cent of Australia’s population
  • Mobile phone users without a home fixed-line telephone (mobile only) increased by 24 per cent to reach 3.1 million adults
  • Mobile phone users going online via their mobile handset increased from 21 per cent during June 2011 to 32 per cent during June 2012.
  • the number of internet subscriptions increased by 17 per cent to 28.23 million.
  • The volume of data we downloaded increased by nearly 52 per cent.  That’s equivalent to 110,247 high definition movies or 53,309,746 high-quality songs.
  • The number of Australians going online at least once a day increased by eight per cent to 10.8 million
  • The rollout of key infrastructure projects such as 4G and the NBN influenced the acquisition of a number of strategic communications assets by companies such as iiNet, Optus, and Foxtel.

With 69% of Australians communicating via mobile phones and email, the trends in Australia are clear.  Australians are online more, they download more, and they are more reliant than ever on mobile services.

Meeker went further and described changes to devices, interfaces (touch, voice), connectivity, photography, navigation, and knowledge creation and dissemination (user created, always available and updated), news creation and flow as ‘re-imagining everything’.