Our Australian chapter – Teks Mobile Australia – is off to a grand start. We have here presented some of the key findings from our month-long analysis of the mobile and app markets in Australia.
In terms of total mobile users’ count, Australia occupies the 38th position in the world. The country’s mobile communications industry has advanced at a rapid rate over the last 4-5 years. Currently, there are well over 16 million smartphone users Down Under, and it has been projected that by 2016, 8 out of every 10 Australian mobile user would have smartphones and/or tablets. Let’s here do a roundup of the other interesting trends in the Australian mobile sector:
- The growth rate – The annual growth rate of the smartphone industry in Australia has been in excess of 85% (annualized, from 2008-09 to 2013-14). The total value of the sector is inching towards $400 million, with overall revenues rising at a rate of almost 20%.
- The degree of smartphone penetration – Australia became only the second country (after South Korea) to have more than 50% penetration of smartphones in the national mobile market. Although United States and the United Kingdom has more mobile users, they do not have similarly high smartphone penetration.
- Growing popularity of apps – The Australian market has kept pace with the burgeoning worldwide popularity of mobile applications. The monthly app download figure among adults (users over 18 years) stands at an impressive 5 million – and this figure has been growing at 85%-90%, on average. As a direct result, the demands for and earning potentials of mobile app development companies have increased.
- Mobile phone recycling – This is a trend that is gradually picking up momentum in Australia. The average duration for which a person uses a handset varies from 18 to 25 months, after which the devices are either upgraded, exchanged or recycled. MobileMuster alone has nearly 4500 public drop-off points, where old phones can be deposited for recycling.
- Telstra is consolidating its position as the leading service provider – With just a shade under 16 million subscribers, Telstra is comfortably the top mobile services company in Australia. Optus takes up second spot, with 9.5 million subscribers. Vodafone Australia (once the market leader) has been losing users over the last few quarters, and currently has around 5.3 million subscribers.
- Presence of mobile apps on devices – Yet another factor where Australia holds an edge over the UK and the US markets. General smartphone users have around 25-30 mobile apps installed in their devices – which is higher than the average number in both America and Britain. Not surprisingly, Australian mobile app developers are encouraged by the growing size of the app market (particularly, the mobile gaming sector).
- Android is the most popular mobile platform – More than 56% of all smartphones in Australia are Android devices, underlining the latter’s position as the top mobile platform here. Although iOS is in the second spot (with a 36% market share), its growth has become rather flat in recent times. Windows Phone takes up the third spot (comfortably ahead of Blackberry) – but remarkably, it has the highest growth rate among the top platforms in the country.
- Phablets likely to become the first-choice smart device – Survey reports have revealed that most mobile users in Australia prefer having devices with relatively larger screens (which explains the dominance of Google Android handsets over Apple iPhones). Phablets, in fact, make up almost 45% of all mobile shipments to the APAC region. According to a recent Business Insider report, there is every chance of phablets leaving smartphones behind in terms of popularity, by 2017.
- Mobile commerce is booming in Australia – Sophistication and smart usage is the name of the game among Australian mobile users. Between 2010 and the end of 2013, m-commerce grew at a rate of a stunning 448%, and the trend is expected to sustain (maybe at a slightly lower rate) in the next few quarters. Over 40% of mobile internet users regularly do mobile payments. Financial transactions on the mobile platform is the most popular among people in the 25-34 age group.
- The love affair with mobile phones – Australians are remarkably attached to their personal handsets. A recent consumer survey had over 65% respondents saying that carrying their phones made them feel ‘more secure’. Around 7 out of every 10 people ruled out the idea of stepping out of home without their handsets.
- Nearly three-quarters of Australian adults own smartphones – In the 15-70 age bracket, almost 74% people have their own smartphones. This figure is projected to go up to 95% by the end of 2018. In other words, almost all mobile phones in Australia will have smartphone functionality by that time.
- The growth of the tablet market – The tablet segment is also on a fast lane of growth Down Under. By 2018, 8 out 10 households (on average) will own at least one tablet – a massive rise over the current tablet penetration rate of 49%. iPad, with a 60% market share, dominates the tablet sector – but there are many new challengers as well.
- Accessing the web on the go – 90% of all Australians have regular access to the World Wide Web. More remarkably, more than 70% people use their mobile phones for browsing the internet. Sending and receiving emails is the most common activity among mobile internet users, while reading news and searching for information on specific products/services are also common. As a result, marketing campaigns via mobile apps are increasingly becoming popular in the country.
- Mobile over television – That’s right, an average Aussie can live without a television, but not without his/her mobile handset. Google recently conducted a survey (in association with IPSOS Media – which revealed that nearly 25% people were prepared to give up their TVs rather than their smartphones.
- Proliferation of mobile app companies – Half a decade back, there were only a handful of mobile app development agencies in the entire country. The scenario has undergone a sea-change, with Australia currently having almost 460 app development companies. The employability of the mobile sector has also jumped up over the last 3-4 years.
- The behavioral aspects – Mobile usage among Australians might have become more common than ever before, but people have not forgotten about the correct mobile etiquettes. 86% of all Australians feel that talking loudly on mobile in a public place amounts to rudeness. Nearly 75% people think that taking calls in the middle of a conversation is impolite too.
- Effect of mobile shopping on brick-and-mortar stores – The degree to which people in Australia have taken to mobile shopping can be best understood by this – more than 800 physical stores are likely to close down in 2013-14 (as per a Future Laboratory report), simply because customers are becoming more and more comfortable with buying on the move. Professional Android and iOS app developers have launched many shopping-based applications as well.
- Growing need for fast, responsive business websites – According to researches by StewArt Media, 90% of smartphone users look up local business websites on their phones. What’s more important – 80% of these people base their buying decisions on the basis of the information they get on their mobile. Hence, Australian businesses can no longer gloss over the importance of responsive, mobile-friendly websites.
- Smartphones vs Computer usage – In February, smartphones overtook personal computers as the most popular medium for accessing the internet in America. In Australia too, such a scenario does not seem to be too far away. Interestingly, it has been found that smartphones are mostly used during mornings, while PCs have a greater usage percentage during official business hours.
- Mobile advertising figures are on a rise – Given how important mobile marketing has become in Australia in the past few years, it is hardly surprising to note that the overall value of mobile advertising is also on an upward spiral. By 2015, total expenses on mobile advertisements would be in the vicinity of $80 million (if the present annual growth rate of 46% holds). That would be an almost nine-fold increase over what the mobile ad figures were in 2010 ($9 million).
There has also been a significant surge in the popularity of mobile apps for kids in the last 2-3 years – in sync with the global advancements in education technology. Australia is at the top of the pile in terms of per capita usage of smartphones – well ahead of European and North American countries. The market is, most importantly, not saturated, and has every potential to grow further over time.