Even with the increased use of instant messaging, SMS remains the workhorse of mobile — with a 14% increase in the number of SMS messages sent in 2011 compared with 2010. More than 2 trillion SMS messages were sent in the US in 2011, which equates to more than 6 billion SMS messages sent per day. Text messaging users send or receive an average of 35 messages per day. Although by 2017 SMS will dominate mobile content spend less than it does today, it will still remain significant.
More than 80% of worldwide app downloads in 2011 were for Apple and Android devices; these accounted for more than 16 billion downloads. Gaming apps dominate mobile app spending; this is driven by both an increase in the number of users playing games on their phones and the amount of in-game spend, which accounted for more than 60% of mobile gaming revenues. In the US, about 76 million mobile and tablet owners regularly play games on their devices; with only a third of these regularly downloading games, there’s a great opportunity for growth in both mobile advertising and mobile gaming revenues.
In two recently published forecasts — Forrester Research Mobile Adoption Forecast, 2011 To 2016 (Western Europe) and Forrester Research Mobile Adoption And Sales Forecast, 2012 To 2017 (US) — we looked at mobile Internet usage across the US and 17 countries in Western Europe.* Tracking the evolution of mobile Internet usage allows us to understand changes in consumer behavior and to better understand such things as the rise of mobile commerce. We found that in 2011, less than one-third of mobile phone owners in Western Europe connected to the mobile Internet at least monthly; this equates to 100 million individuals. In the US, monthly mobile Internet penetration reached 114 million people, approaching half of handset owners. Even the UK, which is one of the leading proponents of mobile Internet usage in Europe, lagged the US, with less than 40% of mobile phone users connecting to the mobile Internet at least monthly.
European economic woes have almost certainly had an impact, but factors like higher smartphone penetration, competitive data plans, higher post-pay subscriber penetration, and the faster rollout of 4G networks and handsets in the US than in Western Europe help explain this difference. In 2011, more than 17 million US mobile phone users already had 4G compatible handsets compared with only 1.6 million in Western Europe.
We recently ran a poll on Forrester's Facebook page: “Which market do you think has a higher percentage of sales coming from online channels — US or UK?"
While most respondents thought the US leads in online retail sales, the answer is actually the UK. Per Forrester's ForecastView latest estimates from the Forrester Research Online Retail Forecast, 2011 To 2016 (US) & (Western Europe), online retail sales in the US will top $200 billion, representing close to 7% of total retail sales of $3 trillion in 2011. Online retail sales in the UK will be £30.2 billion, representing 10% of total retail sales of £297 billion (per the Economist Intelligent Unit- EIU) in 2011.
The UK continues to have larger online channel share because:
The online buying population as a percentage of total population is higher in the UK.
UK online buyers’ average spend levels are slightly higher than those of US online buyers.
The UK population is more deal-sensitive and more prone to buying online.
Thanks to Tesco, online food (grocery) sales are a large contributor to online retail sales in the UK.
Forrester has just released its US Online Retail Forecast, 2010 to 2015, and EU Online Retail Forecast, 2010 to 2015. It is clear from our forecast data that online sales in the US and EU will continue to rise as users become increasingly comfortable buying in the online space. In 2010, US online retail sales grew 12.6% to a total of $176 billion. Similarly, EU online retails sales grew 18% in 2010 to a total of $81 billion. The US and EU markets are projected to grow 12% and 13%, respectively, in 2011.
Why is retail eCommerce continuing to grow?
There is an increase in overall web buyers. There were 5.5 million new US online shoppers who accounted for 30% of the total eCommerce sales. The EU online population grew by 13.4 million users in 2010.
Web buyers are spending more online. 70% of growth in US retail eCommerce sales came from existing shoppers spending more. Similarly, EU average online spend has increased 8% from 2010.
There is an increased level of penetration for online retail. Mobile devices and the proliferation of touchpoints have contributed to the US online retail penetration growing to 8% in 2010. The EU is also seeing steady growth; Forrester is estimating 10% penetration in the UK by 2012.
In hindsight, 2009 marked a turning point for the market research industry, when technology and innovation became part of the ongoing discussion on how to move the industry forward while balancing the realities of a business world in a recession.