2014 Isn’t the ‘Year of Mobile’

MobileI have officially lost count of how many articles I’ve seen declaring 2014 the “Year of Mobile.” Every time it leaves me thinking “Really, this is the year of mobile? What about the past five years where mobile has been steadily taking over the world? Or the next five years that are predicted to see just as much mobile growth?”

The point is, does mobile really need a year? Mobile isn’t a fad or trend, it’s a new way of life. Declaring an “it” year implies that something has reached its peak popularity, the pinnacle of its achievement, or at the very least the year that it finally broke into the main stream and earned widespread adoption. Mobile doesn’t fit any of the categories.

Mobile has been on an upward trend from the moment users got their hands on an iPhone seven years ago. During the 2010 fiscal year, Apple sold 40 million iPhones. By the end of the 2011 fiscal year that number had nearly doubled to 72 million. By the end of the 2013 fiscal year, Apple had sold more than 94 million iPhones. In the first quarter of this fiscal year, Apple had already sold 55.1 million iPhones. And that’s just one mobile device. Apple’s iPad saw similar consistently climbing numbers. Many other tablet and phone makers show similar upward trends quarter over quarter and year over year.

And mobile growth extends well beyond devices. In 2012, nearly 64 billion apps were downloaded. In early March 2013, ABI Research predicted we’d download 70 billion apps that year. Six months later, Gartner upped that number, saying they expected users to download 102 billion apps in 2013. By 2017 (just three years from now) year app downloads are predicted to reach 260 billion.

IT budgets are also growing to keep up with the still shifting demands. In 2012, 31% of companies reported testing mobile apps and last year that number jumped to 55%.

This continually growing trend is reflected in the fact that the past three years have been declared “the year of mobile.” People have already decided that mobile is a winner, part of their everyday lives and something that’s here to stay. What it appears these articles mean when they say the “year of mobile” is whether or not businesses catch on to and learn to cope with this already established trend. From Forbes:

Attention: Announcing 2014, the third annual “year of mobile.” Yes, we have been hearing this line since 2012, but it seems that 2014 is poised to finally be the year that mobile becomes a mainstream marketing solution. Consumer adoption of smartphones and tablets is now ubiquitous.

Admittedly, many major companies (not just marketers) have not fully committed to mobile yet. From B2C:

Less than half (45 percent) of Fortune 100 companies have dedicated mobile websites, and only 57 percent of the top 100 brands have optimized their websites for mobile, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. These numbers show that big brands still have a long way to go when it comes to a successful mobile marketing strategy.

In that sense, maybe this will be the year companies and business people realize that not embracing mobile will start to hurt their top line, but they’ll be late to the party. For everyone else, they year of mobile happened in 2007.

It’s the age of mobile, not a year. And it simply isn’t slowing down.

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