The Mobile Wave

on December 5, 2013

1) We all know that sales of smartphones and tablets are are growing fast, however…

2) Those sales are growing even faster than we may realize, and…

3) The implications of this new wave of computing devices is going to be enormous; is going to impact us sooner than we anticipate, and…

4) We have to make ready or it will pass us by or, more likely, sweep our current way of conducting our businesses away.

Part 1: The Exhibits In Evidence

The iPhone & iPad Lit A Fuse Under The Rocket That Is Post-PC

— Most of the growth in mobile computing has come in just the last three years. ((This year we will sell around 300 million PCs and laptops while we will also sell just over 300 million tablets. By the end of 2015, we will be selling less than 300 million PCs and laptops and will be selling well over 350 million tablets. In fact, some market researchers think that by 2017 we could be selling 500 million tablets a year around the world. This makes tablets a serious growth market. While I state that the tablet journey has gone on for well over 20 years, its accelerated growth has come in just the last three years. ~ Tim Bajarin (@Bajarin)))

After only being in existence for 5 years, the iPhone is the second best selling product of all time – the 1st is the Rubik’s Cube. ~ UberFacts (@UberFacts)

I believe that the iPhone and iPad is to mobile computing what the Model-T was to cars.


The above chart, from Horace Dediu of Asymco, shows the growth of the car industry before and after the introduction of the Model-T. There were literally hundreds of car makers who, in the twenty years prior to the introduction of the Model-T, were all trying create THE car that would make the fledgling auto industry viable and profitable. As it turned out, it wasn’t so much the car itself, but a new method of cheaply mass manufacturing cars in quantity, that proved to be the key to unlocking the value that lay the car industry.

Similarly, while the iPhone was a brilliant achievement in itself, it wasn’t until the next year, when Apple introduced what was later to be known as iOS, along with the App Store, that the modern Smartphone was truly born. The combination of the iPhone, iOS and the App Store were the modern day equivalent to the procedure for mass producing the Model-T. The Model-T cracked the problem of production. The App Store cracked the problem of mobile software distribution. Both changed their respective worlds, forever. ((Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by parochialism. Nowadays, Apple isn’t happening to mobile. The future is happening to mobile.))


— As you read the follow data concerning mobile, keep in mind that Black Friday sales were DOWN this year.

— However, online shopping was UP.

— And sales of electronics were up; sales of mobile devices were up, Up, UP; and sales of tablets, in particular, were out-of-sight.


— Apple has 500,000 iPhone 5Ss being made every day, its highest ever output.

1.7bn mobile phones (feature phones and smartphones) were sold in 2012 alone
– 3.2bn people use a mobile phone worldwide
– Smartphones gain quickly as phones are replaced every 18 to 24 months. ~ Jean-Louis Gassée



— eBay reported selling one iPad per SECOND as of midnight on Black Friday.

— iPad Mini the top seller at Walmart.

— Apple products were 22% of Target’s sales on Black Friday.


Source: Mobile Is Eating The World, Benedict Evans


— Estimating tablet sales increase of 38% from Q4 2012. ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)

— Worldwide sales of tablets and PCs are going to be very close this Q4. ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)

To chart how quickly the market is shifting to tablets, consider that in February 2013, Canalys noted that tablets accounted for only one-third of all personal computers shipped. For all of 2013, Canalys had predicting originally predicted that tablets will account for 37% of all PCs shipped, with some 182.5 million tablets out of a total 493.1 million units, although today it is revising that up to 40%. ~ Techcrunch


(Author’s Note: Ben Bajarin did all the research and hard work necessary to create the above chart, yet was kind enough to allow me “steal” the fruits of his labor. Thank you, Ben.)

Tablet sales will probably overtake TV sales in the next few quarters. Getting internet video onto the TV itself might not matter. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

Stop! You might want to re-read the above. Tablet sales might overtake TELEVISION sales in the next few quarters!



From talking with many friends and family over the holidays there was one tech product I heard no one say they were buying – a PC. ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)


(Author’s Pet Peeve: Tablets are not “cannabalizing” PC’s. Sharks don’t “cannabalize” fish, they devour them. Tablets are not “cannabalizing” PC’s, they’re eating them up.)

Interesting to hear more and more consumers tell us they are self aware of the fact that the PC is overkill for their main use cases. ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)


I think there’s effectively going to be a consumer strike for q4 for PCs. Only if you completely need one would you buy. ~ Charles Arthur (@charlesarthur)


Source: Mobile Is Eating The World, Benedict Evans

The global iOS & Android install base is about to pass PCs ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

— Some say that PC sales are going to decline by 10%

— Some say more than 10%

— Some are predicting that PCs are going to decline further than projected, and…

— Some say that as ugly as those forecasts look, reality is going to be worse.

Part 2: The near-term — not the far-term — implications of Mobile Computing are enormous


In 2013 the Tech CEO Bodycount ((Courtesy of Horace Dediu (@asymco))) included Microsoft, BlackBerry, Acer, Nokia with HTC teetering on the brink. And that’s just in 2013.



Rule of thumb: iTunes accounts are growing at the rate of 100 million every six months. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco)


Mobile Is The Only Media That Is Growing – TV, Print, Radio Are All Shrinking ~ Aravind S (@aravinds)


Source: Horace Dediu of Asymco


Take a good hard look at the mobile broadband is growing and wired broadband is tapering off.


Source: Horace Dediu of Asymco


The online shopping “Pie” is getting bigger.

Online holiday shopping (desktop and mobile) in the U.S. was up 14.5% from last year.

You spent $1.2 billion shopping online on Black Friday. ~ Arik Hesseldahl



Mobile is becoming a bigger portion of the bigger pie.

— “As of 9AM mobile accounted for 40.9% of online sales and iOS for 83% of those mobile sales.” ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco)

— iOS Devices Drive more than $543 Million, Android $148 Million in Online Sales on Dual-Billion Dollar Days ~ Adobe

It’s entirely possible and even probable that next year less than half of the online holiday shopping traffic in the US will come from PCs. Put another way, next year less than half of users will hire a PC for the job of online shopping. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco)


Per 100 people there are 96 mobile subscriptions and 42 households with a PC. ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)

How is that possible?

Well, mobile devices are personal. Each person uses their own phone, they don’t share it with family members. A family, for example, may share a single PC at home, but each family member may own their own phone and even their own tablet, too.

(M)ost homes in developed markets have one PC or laptop. By 2016, these same homes will have about three tablets each… ~ Tim Bajarin


(I)t’s pretty clear that the tablet is on track to become the most pervasive personal computer the market has ever seen. The tablet has literally redefined what a personal computer is to people all over the world. ~ Tim Bajarin

Part 3: The Sea Change

Just two more points. And if you remember nothing else from this article, remember these two things:

1) The SCALE of the mobile computing revolution is larger than we think; and

2) Mobile computing is our PREFERRED way of computing.

This represents a true sea change in computing.





Source: Mobile Is Eating The World, Benedict Evans

I spend half my time trying to get people to grasp the scale of mobile and the other half trying to grasp it myself. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)


IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark has published, for the fourth year in a row, US online shopping traffic data with a split between mobile and fixed online traffic. It reveals a pattern of consumer behavior which is quite startling: people seem to prefer to shop using mobile devices. ~ Horace Dediu, Asymco

(Emphasis added)

When people are away from home or office, they choose the phone. When people have a choice between a phone, a tablet and a PC, they choose the tablet. The traditional PC has become the last choice, not the preferred choice, for the majority of computer users.

Part 4: It’s Not Enough To Predict The Rain; We Have To Build The Ark

To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle. – George Orwell


The entire understanding of a PC has changed and the term needs to be re-defined. ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)


Constantly impressed by how much iPads have helped simplify computing for those previously overwhelmed by it. ~ Lessien (@Lessien)


Getting computing devices in the hands of the masses is the goal of the next 20 years. ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)


There were these two cows, chatting over the fence between their fields.The first cow said, “I tell you, this mad-cow-disease is really pretty scary. They say it is spreading fast; I heard it hit some cows down on the Johnson Farm.”

The other cow replies, “I ain’t worried, it don’t affect us ducks.”

If you don’t think that mobile computing is coming for you and your business, you’re either mad or you’re a dumb duck. Either way, you’re in big trouble.

“Change is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better.” ~ Richard Hooker

One of the things that happens in organizations as well as with people is that they settle into ways of looking at the world and become satisfied with things and the world changes and keeps evolving and new potential arises but these people who are settled in don’t see it. That’s what gives start-up companies their greatest advantage. The sedentary point of view is that of most large companies. ~ Steve Jobs

“People don’t resist change.  They resist being changed.” ~ Peter M. Senge

Change is coming and it’s coming a lot faster than we think. We can ride the wave, or we can get swept away. The choice is ours.