Going Mobile Part I: Adoption Rates and User Behaviour

Going Mobile Part I: Adoption Rates and User Behaviour

Seeing how there is no shortage of predictions and cold, hard facts stating the importance of having a mobile optimised presence, but small businesses are still not reacting to this shift with anything resembling adequate levels of enthusiasm, we decided to provide you with a miniseries of articles describing the importance of presenting yourself in the best possible light to your mobile device wielding customers as well as providing some info on how to go about doing that.

This article, the first one in a series of three, will deal with statistics concerning mobile adoption rates of people in Australia. We’ll try and illustrate the number of potential customers that businesses are failing to either attract in the first place or only failing to help them convert. All of this is intended to prompt action from businesses who seem to be all too willing to ignore a very lucrative and, indeed, essential adaptation.

The market is going gangbusters for smartphones

According to a 2013 report made by the BI Intelligence just between 2007 and 2013, smartphone penetration in Australia has skyrocketed by an amazing 65%, from 19% in 2007 to 84% in 2013, and the numbers have only increased in 2014. The same report states that data revenues have become a major source of income for carriers in 2011, representing a respectable 42.7% share of their total revenue, which includes calls and texts. This testifies to the increase in the user’s tendency to use their smartphones for browsing the web, and it is safe to assume that the numbers are even higher today. The situation with tablet adoption is quite similar with the percentage of mobile phone owners who also own a tablet rising from 12% in 2010 to 71% in 2013.

Likewise, the number of people using their mobile devices to check into their Facebook account has been steadily growing, with the 59% of mobile users doing so in 2013. Looking at these numbers, it is quite evident that the consumer base was anything but hesitant to adopt mobile devices and incorporate them into their daily routine, however, retailers seem to be lagging behind when it comes to this shift.

Design is lagging behind usage

Research by Frost & Sullivan highlights the discrepancy between the demand and supply when it comes to how well equipped retailers are to accommodate their mobile using would-be customers. The research was conducted on a relatively small sample of 120 businesses, members of Australian Retailers Association, focusing on those with less than 50 outlets, however, the results are detailed enough to uncover a peculiar trend.

Namely, out of the more than 50% Australian retailers that have a website, less than 30% have made the effort of optimising it for mobile devices, while 21% provided their customers with a native app. Seeing how 52% people use mobile devices for commerce, these numbers are quite surprising. People are not only more used to researching products on their handheld devices (29% of the survey participants), they are also less resistant to making mobile purchases than they once were with 3% percent of visitors actually converting to buyers. Seeing how the consumers are mobile ready, one must wonder why retailers aren’t more eager to accommodate them.

Apparently, the main reasons are the complications that come with adapting their existing systems, insufficient internal resources, mostly regarding staff, and costs of the required equipment (tablets for the store staff and the like). However, if retailers were more willing to compare the potential gains and the required investment most of them would be quite willing to bear the costs and make the shift.


There is a definite disparity between the number of people in Australia who are looking for information and retail options on their mobile devices and the number of retailers who are actually offering these options. Tapping into this share of the market is not something that will always be as easy as it currently is, as early adopters might become so dominant and entrenched in their leading positions that newcomers will have a much more difficult job of cutting a piece of the cake for themselves.

More from this series:

Going Mobile Part I: Adoption Rates and User Behaviour
Going Mobile Part II: When Optimising for Mobile, Go Responsive
Going Mobile Part III: WordPress and Responsive Design

  • If you look at the most resent data you’ll see that desktop is still dominant for Australian internet use. For example, a review of Google Analytics data from 81 of my customer’s websites revealed that mobile web browsing has plateaued over the last couple of years to about 40% of total browsing, and – more importantly – this figure doesn’t seem to be increasing. Find out what implications this might have for your website: http://www.yarraweb.com.au/920/the-rise-and-plateau-of-mobile-use-2010-2016/