Vinay Sud is UNTETHER.tv’s latest contributor, and the founder of Global LBS, a location based services trend spotter. Vinay will be dropping in from time to time to talk LBS, and what’s going on in the mobile space across the pond.
According to certain reports, such as Mintel’s Digital Trends Spring – UK – 2012 report, there is a certain digital peculiarity to the UK. Take the tablet space, for example. Ownership patterns and the consumer desire for e-readers suggest that they are competing solidly against tablet computers, in part driven by their lower prices, longer battery life and screens which are suitable for longer reading sessions. Innovations include backlit screens and colour E Ink technology will continue to keep e-readers competitive with tablets in the coming year.
However, it is the mobile Internet usage data which is the most illuminating. The findings showed that nearly 80% of smartphone users in the UK accessed the Internet via their devices with a large proportion (44%) accessing the Internet in the three months prior to January 2012. So what are UK smartphone users doing on the Internet?
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Table 1 highlights Internet activities performed in the three months from January 2012, and Table 2 shows a the top ten activities performed in the three months by device from Jan 2012. Both tables are based on 1983 Internet users aged 16+ who used computer, smartphone, and/or tablet to access the Internet in the past three months.
From a retailers perspective, online shopping is the third most performed internet activity on a traditional computer but does not feature in the top ten activities undertaken one a smartphone. While ecommerce is gaining momentum consumers are not doing so much on the smartphone partly due to screen size leading on to the fact that many sites are not optimised for smartphone devices. Security is also a major issue due to with many consumers distrusting using their phones to make payments even with secure assurances on the site.
This activity gap does indicate an opportunity for any company able to establish disruptive mobile retail and payment solutions. However, the adoption of payment via NFC (Near Field Communications) has not been as forced as in North America as indicated by Doug Stephens’ UNTETHER.tv article, which states that the Canadian Bankers Association together with Canada’s major mobile carriers have released guidelines mapping out an agenda for “building digital systems of payment” for Canadian consumers en mass by Autumn 2012. There are projects such as Transport for London’s NFC contactless payment scheme planned for 2012, which should have been implemented in time for the Olympics, but has been held back because the “system” is not robust enough.
In conclusion, while there is a certain inevitability of NFC being used as a payment method to fuel mobile retail in both the UK and North America, it is clear the UK is a step behind in capitalising on the opportunity.