The Instant Primer on Three Crucial Mobile Trends

March 14, 2013 Boris Chan

It can be difficult to keep up with the development of mobile. It’s a huge part of our jobs at Xtreme Labs to do so, and I wanted to share three trends we think are extremely relevant to the future of mobile devices and the industry.

It starts with the $13 billion Samsung spent on advertising.

The Two-Horse Race

The main difference between Samsung and all other manufacturers is advertising spend and brand awareness: analyst Benedict Evans suggests that consumer awareness and interest in the Samsung Galaxy brand is greater than that of Google Android.

The reason behind this: Samsung spends a ton of money on advertising. In fact, it’s estimated that they spent more ad money than Coca-Cola did in 2012. With the pending launch of the Galaxy S4, their marketing machine is in overdrive – just take a look at their latest commercial to see what I mean.

Instead of it being a Android vs. iOS race, the two horse race may be iOS vs. Samsung, or Android vs. Samsung. Of course, the whispers of a third pillar in the smartphone ecosystem will continue, with Tizen, Firefox OS, BlackBerry 10 and Windows all working hard.

The Next Billion Users: Africa, Russia, China

The next billion users are coming from places such as Africa, Russia, and China. They have very different types of consumptions, and constraints, compared to what we have usually seen in North America.

iTunes required a behaviour change for North American users, but it was a net new product: nothing like it was in widespread use when it launched, so there was nothing to compare it to. Because of iOS’ established popularity in North America, that means it will likely always retain a position here.

However, users in the three emerging regions have choices that North America did not. As both platforms are today, they will have a harder time using iOS than Android simply because the behavior change required for iOS is greater.

In comparison, Android adapts better to global markets. For example, check out this Motorola phone with hardly any Google apps installed. Instead, it is perfectly tailored to China’s brands and services: namely Baidu instead of Google. (Apple needs to continue actively partnering up with major brands, like integrating Baidu into iOS.)

One Billion Android Devices

It’s predicted that by the end of 2013, the number of Android devices will surpass the entire Windows ecosystem – over a billion devices. Isn’t that remarkable?

When we think of the billion club, there are only a few brands that come to mind: Visa and Facebook, for example, have over a billion users.

Given the price constraints of the next billion users, it’s practically inevitable that we will get to a point where people can spend $50 and get an Android 4.0 smartphone that meets their needs. In comparison, Apple has never priced their devices low; instead, their cheaper devices are the older models.

This has serious implications for the mobile ecosystem: while it’s easier to develop for iOS first, given the significantly lesser extent of fragmentation of devices (i.e., iOS’ four devices, compared to Android’s thousands), it’s also essential to build for Android if your goals are global. For example, Instagram doubled their user base after making the expansion into Android.

With that said, there’s one interlinked point: should Samsung continue to dominate in brand awareness, perhaps one day you won’t have to test on as many devices. As always, we’re on the verge of seeing things change drastically. Keep your eyes peeled – if you don’t, it could just pass you by.

Connect with Boris Chan on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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