Over the past five years, we have seen a dramatic shift in the world around us. In early 2009, Blackberry devices still significantly outnumbered iPhones, while the iPad was nearly a year away from launching. Now, mobile technologies such as smartphones, tablets and other connected devices proliferate our everyday lives -- we now truly live in a mobile-first world.
Accordingly, every industry is now looking to innovate within the mobile space, leveraging its ability to bring new technologies and social connections to a greater number of individuals. This approach makes perfect sense in 2014: over 90 percent of Americans own a mobile phone and, of those, a large majority are smartphones.
There are already some great examples of companies that have successfully embraced a mobile-first path. Tempo AI launched last year as the first truly smart calendar for mobile phones, creating an app that uses artificial intelligence to automate the most important tasks in your day. The app was so popular at launch they "sold out" and instituted a reservation system to make sure every user could take advantage of its features. Another great example is Boxed, a mobile company disrupting the way people buy in bulk that is seeing 100 percent month-over-month growth. While the first disruption in big box retail may have been online shopping, a mobile-first solution like Boxed goes even further by removing the need for a computer and instead putting what you need right at your fingertips.
If you haven't yet tackled the issue of how to make your business mobile-first, 2014 is a better time than ever before. Here are three facts to remind you that 2014 is a prime year for honing your mobile strategy.
1. Every day in the US, 166 million smartphones are used.
Everyone and their mom (literally) is on a smartphone these days, and thus opportunities to connect with your customers are no longer relegated to desktop computers or the Web. The biggest platform is omnipresent in everyone's pocket. While there are still some old-school holdouts, the mobile majority is strong enough that if you are looking to build anything in 2014 and beyond, you should target mobile first.
2. Social networks are hotter than ever, and now accessed chiefly on mobile.
Even the companies famous for the Web are making their biggest bets on mobile. Facebook now has more mobile only users than desktop only, while Google has a great deal of skin in the mobile game between Android and wearable software. More recently, Yahoo! has been on a tear of mobile acquisitions (in fact, there are too many to even begin to list). Everyone knows that to succeed next year, or five years from now and beyond, they must be on the device people never leave home without -- the phone.
3. Google Glass was just the beginning: The wearables are coming!
Wearable technology continues to sizzle, reminding us that smartphones and tablets are just the tip of the iceberg as connected devices flood the market. The wearable industry will be over a $30 billion industry by 2018, according to information technology analysts. This may seem crazy at first glance, yet with new connected device launching everyday, the reach is far and wide. There are wearables for babies, pets and even devices that can read your mind.
Beyond the novelty of the devices, it's easy to see that wearable tech and the sensors they house are permeating all aspects of our lives. While the mythical iWatch still dominates consumer mindshare, just think about the real-life potential of wearable technology in everything from fashion to finance, and especially healthcare..
4. Brands that have been dipping their toes for years are finally taking the plunge
2014 is the year that big tech is finally placing its bets on mobile. With Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and mobile messengers courting hundreds of millions of users daily, brands are ready to follow the people. This means that advertising and sponsorship money is finally starting to pour into mobile advertising and mobile apps.
Whether it's advertisements on Instagram, Vine or even Mindy Kaling showing up on your Tinder, big brands have taken notice of mobile-first platforms. The investment in mobile shows no sign of stopping as we head into 2015, and will bring more money to mobile companies and massive engagement to brands. A win/win.
Interested in learning more? Check out the M1 "Mobile-first" Summit: m1summit.com