BuzzCity predicts global smartphone adoption for 2014

By KF Lai

Emerging markets are leading the way when it comes to bringing new products onto mobile that will offer consumers even more convenient solutions. The need for accessibility is a main driver. 2014 strategies will need to incorporate mobile first and understand the rise in consumer power and expectations.

1.       Smartphone adoption is global!

Smartphone use has been growing globally and across our own network we are seeing a massive migration of users from feature phones to smartphones. Although the growth itself is not surprising, the rate of growth is explosive – by December 2012, half of mobile surfers in 50 countries around the world surf with smartphones! Consumer preference for smartphones is now undeniable and mobile players should specifically look out for a rapid shift in Indonesia, Philippines, Mexico and Argentina over the next 12 months. Although Africa is also seeing growth it may be another year before it reaches the explosive levels of growth other regions have experienced.

2.       Fragmentation

The rapid growth of smart connections via smartphones and tablets will increase an already fragmented ecosystem.  This is the result of a wide range of operating systems that run the devices combined with the different designs of the devices. Although these create challenges for those developing content, devices that run on mobile technology will be major drivers for the media and entertainment industry.

As the use of mobile devices become mainstream, the consumers’ attention is also more fragmented; being divided more than ever across multiple screens – TV, mobile and tablet. Media consumption becomes a mash-up of a series of activities and building the critical mass of audiences becomes ever more difficult.  Marketers must start to think of marketing campaigns as a series of activation, data analysis and optimisation in a repeating cycle.

3.       Emerging market growth

We continue to see extensive growth in mobile usage across the globe. Beyond the Asian markets, the African market is expected to see continued mobile internet adoption. In particular South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana are seeing significant growth with Nigeria thriving on network stability. Analyst firm Strategic Analytics recently estimated that the number of active smartphones in the world passed 1 billion in Q3 2012 and Africa is one emerging market that it believes has the potential to add another 1 billion active smartphones by 2015. Emerging markets are also leading the way when it comes to bringing new products onto mobile that will offer consumers even more convenient solutions. For example, we’ve already seen mobile banking and micro-financing entering the mobile market and we envisage mobile healthcare will develop and grow in much the same way; by solving the problem of accessibility.

4.       Mobile first

The number of people on their mobiles cannot be ignored. While mobile needs to lead, marketers will need to put strategy before tactics, taking into consideration multi-screen viewing and user behaviour. This means that we will begin to see a strategy drawn out from mobile first and then progressively enhanced for devices with larger screens. But don’t forget that consumers are more empowered and want more content than ever before, from blog postings to photos and videos.


Dr KF Lai is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of BuzzCity. Lai uses his entrepreneurial skills to spearhead BuzzCity’s strategy, leading the company’s engineering, product management and technology groups. Since its launch in 1999, BuzzCity has grown to be a leading global mobile advertising network. Dr Lai is often invited to speak at global mobile and media events, providing insight on the evolving mobile ecosystem to affiliates, analysts and industry commentators. Prior to founding BuzzCity, Dr Lai worked as an applied researcher in laboratories funded by the Singapore government, specialising in pattern recognition and text retrieval.

About BuzzCity

BuzzCity is a mobile advertising network that offers brand owners and agencies access to a global display network of publishers.  As a leading international player, BuzzCity has developed in-depth knowledge of the mobile consumer and provides marketers with clear opportunities to reach this audience via its advertising and publisher programmes. The network also offers opportunities for publishers, developers and owners of mobile media properties to monetise their traffic through mobile internet advertising.

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