The most significant technological disruption factor of this decade came from the adoption of mobile devices. Its impact on our daily lives is undeniable as it changed the way we communicate and the amount of time we are connected.
The massive use of mobile devices crucially contributed to the growth of internet penetration across the world, which leaped from 24% to 51% in 10 years.
Global Internet Penetration – 2018
While desktop computers have certain dissemination barriers, smartphones proved to be much more accessible, not only for generation Z users – which were already born in the digital age – but also for “baby boomers” and a good part of generation X users.
Companies, on the other hand, were required to review their communication models and habits in order to adapt to this new mobile device, which did not invent social networks but certainly made them much more popular. New business models emerged from the “mobile-first” or “mobile-only” mindset, deeply impacting current lifestyles – it is impossible to imagine businesses such as Uber and Ifood being created without the mobile component associated with them.
However, every innovation reaches its point of maturity. After years of exponential growth, the number of smartphone units delivered to stores in 2019 will ultimately be lower than in 2018:
New Smartphone Units Sent to Retailers vs Year-over-Year Growth
Therefore, if the mobile factor represented an opportunity at the beginning of this decade, it has now consolidated itself as the new status quo. In fact, companies have sought to adapt ever more quickly to this new reality. To prove this, we can observe the relationship between investments in advertising versus the amount of time we spend in each media.
Time Spent (%) versus Advertising Investments (%) in Each Media
What does this data show us? That in 2010 companies did not follow their clients’ behavior patterns: during that year, we already spent 8% of our time on mobile devices, but advertising investments in this media channel represented only 0.5% of total investments. In 2018, comparison was much more coherent: smartphones accounted for 33% of our time online, as did investments in advertising.
At a first glance, this stable scenario is not compatible with the frenzy and the frequency in which mobile devices appeared in the media in 2019. After all, newspapers and magazines make money by talking about news and not about repeating the status quo. What makes sense and reconciles these facts is the arrival of 5G.
To explain the impacts 5G, we can use the analogy of how the dial-up network was replaced with broadband. It was the latter that enabled the feasibility of companies such as Netflix and Youtube. In this sense, it is estimated that the impacts from 5G will be proportionally even greater.
By multiplying the speed, while decreasing inactivity of the mobile network, applications that run self-driven automobiles to remote surgeries by medical-controlled robots will gradually leave their niches to finally benefit large masses of consumers.
The technology for such applications already exists and all that is required is an adequate infrastructure for this scenario to be part of our reality. If you think that some of these concepts sound more like science fiction, so did the idea of having watching series and movies available 100% on demand back in 2001, before the advent of broadband.
As we can observe in the last fifteen years, the forecasting capacity of analysts is limited, but not the ingenuity of entrepreneurs who, with access to an abundant capital flow and disruptive technologies, will certainly continue to surprise us.
Rodolpho Gurgel – former CEO of Bidu Corretora, the leading online insurance broker, and founder of Tema, a consultant firm specialized in digital marketing and technology.
Maurício Alexandre – former CMO da Bidu Corretora and media director at media agency F.biz, founder of Mídia Método and digital marketing consultant.
*Images Sources: Bond internet trends 2019