The smartphone has paved the way for an extremely disruptive business landscape which have led to the empowerment of many smaller vendors as larger conglomerates struggle to keep up with the changes.
This will be The Casual Meta’s first post, as it attempt to shed light on the how smartphone has reshaped the competitive landscape for digital content and communication. We at The Casual Meta specialize in the analysis of the growth of mobile digital content and more specifically freemium content and mobile consumer behaviour.
Before we delve into this, pre Smartphone  . I would like to do a short recap on the ‘unappreciated’ feature phone market compared to the Smartphone market.
Mobile phones were first developed and experienced its first commercial release in 1985,
30 Years from today, they were thick, clunky bricks with poor reception, and considered more of a luxury item than a necessity.
In the year 2000 the first Java enabled mobile phone was developed in Japan and Carriers took notice and attempted to build a business around it. One of the key driving forces for the success of the feature phone market in Japan was both carriers and developers ‘actually’ worked together to build a viable platform for the end user. This couldn’t be done in the North America, as the carriers had too much power during this time and not much effort was done to help out the developers. On the other hand, in Japan, communities were being built by independent developers developing portals and services while the carriers developed user friendly billing systems to help incubate this market.
Mobile browsing back than wasn’t the internet surfing we do today, developers created something called the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) that allowed mobile users to access the internet via their mobile. There were a lot of limitations due to the limited bandwidth the mobile can handle, and developers did the best they could to distribute the information as user friendly as possible.
This would limit the functionality and creativity of what each site can do and service it provided. Japan saw this an opportunity to create new revenue streams where as other countries felt that the technology just wasn’t ready yet.
With each country fostering different values and reforms, the variance in how fast each country has adopted this evolution will vary based on the governing party or its cultural circles.
The adoption of innovation is broken down into 5 different categories:
- Early Adopters
- Early Majority
- Late Majority
If you can assume that the sum of all 4 categories equals to 1. This theory takes the nominal distribution system and breakdown the % of users in each phase.
So Japan, saw the FIRST JAVA ENABLE HANDSET as something innovative and ran with it. By 2002, Japan was experiencing a mobile penetration rate of 64%. Where the US only stood at 49%.
More noticeably, in 2005 the worldwide mobile web browsing penetration was considered to be at 28% but in Japan, 67% of Japanese mobile phone users were already surfing the web on their phone.
In 2005, the mobile penetration rate reached 76%, which would mean that 64 Million Japanese mobile users were actively surfing the web.
76% Mobile Penetration Rate
If you plot this into the Adoption of innovation the Late Majority has already adopted the idea of WAP mobile browsing, where as the world remain still remained adopting this new technology to the Early Majority.
Feature phones may have been adopted by the late majority in Japan but this wasn’t the same case in other countries as most countries have capped their penetration rate with the Early Adopters or the Early Majority.
Whether this is the reason why Japan was late to adopt the Smartphone. One thing is for sure, is that entire world has embraced the Smartphone as its reported that by the end of 2015, over 1.75 Billion Smartphone users will be reported. This is a total 24% of the world’s population or for this post’s purpose, the Early Majority.
As Cloud, free game engines, languages shape the mobile market, will the Smartphone get adopted by the Late Majority or will something more innovative come around that will disrupt everything all together.
I’m pretty sure it will, but the question is in what form?