Retailers and brands have more reason than ever to get mobile right in the next few years, as more than 5.5 billion people globally are expected to be using mobile devices by 2022, with smartphone owners accounting for almost 70% of those users, according to a Forrester Data study.
The report also noted that almost 94% of smartphone owners use Android or iOS devices, with Android expected to capture more than 1.8 billion users this year alone, good for 73% market share. Meanwhile Apple iOS will garner 21% of the market and Windows about 4%, according to Forrester.
Large-screen smartphones are additionally contributing to a decline in tablet users, the forecast found. Forrester expects the total tablet base to decline from 615 million in 2016 to 579 million in 2022.
Not all of those 5.5 billion users in 2022 will be using smartphones capable of supporting the latest retailer and band mobile apps, but the writing is on the wall: The world is going mobile at a blistering rate, with the total number of users in 2022 expected to be twice the worldwide total in 2008.
And maybe not all of them will be shopping via mobile, but all of them should be considered prospective mobile shoppers.
One of the study's implications for retail lies in the production and consumer adoption of smartphones with increasingly large screens. More screen real estate broadens the possibilities for what retailers can do with their mobile apps in terms of how they visually present products and design their sites and navigation capabilities.
Large-screen phones could also raise users' expectations for the quality of their experience with apps, as more retailers turn to 3-D and virtual and augmented reality technologies to enhance the presentation of their products.
Also, it appears that Android-based devices will continue to dominate, suggesting that developers might reconsider how much time they spend developing for the iPhone even if they think the mobile shopping dollars lie with Apple users.
Mobile shopping appeared to be at a pivotal point coming into this year, as performance issues appeared to limit conversion rates even amid promising growth. Many retailers and brands have been revamping their mobile apps in response. With the global mobile boom set to continue, the time is likely near for retailers and brands to perfect their mobile strategies and technologies.