Many publishers and developers have spent the past few years tweaking their mobile products and building their audiences, but have made little attempt to extract revenue from the channel. Social services such as Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare now attract large portions of their traffic from mobile devices but have mostly resisted the addition of ads or marketer content. 2012 will see a drastic shift in the attitudes of mobile publishers and developers, with many shifting their focus to actual revenue generation rather than just talking about the “growing potential” of the medium. To quote Rod Tidwell, “Show me the money.”
Mobile Web Is Rising
In the beginning, there were apps. But as the mobile landscape becomes more fragmented, both in terms of devices and platforms, publishers and developers need to find ways to reach their audiences regardless of hardware type or operating system. Thanks to HTML5, the mobile Web is rapidly becoming the easiest way to do that. In 2011 the FT launched a full-featured mobile Website with app-like functionality, while Subway is currently planning a mobile commerce push centred around the mobile browser versus native applications. Meanwhile social networks such as Twitter and Facebook are investing heavily in native Web mobile experiences. Expect more publishers and service providers to turn their attentions to opportunities on the mobile web versus native applications in 2012. Apps had their day in the sun; it’s time for the mobile Web to shine bright.
Booming of Tablet
Don’t be fooled by your fellow passengers in business class: iPads are still fairly niche to the overall population. That should change. Amazon upended the market with the introduction of its $200 Kindle Fire in November. This is going to push tablets into the mainstream at a breakneck pace. That prospect will have publishers licking their lips. Smartphone use is driven primarily by utility rather than consumption, which has proved difficult to monetize, but tablets don’t have that problem. Their users are engaged, firmly in content-consumption mode, and more receptive to ads and marketer content as a result. Publishers will continue to experiment with revenue models for their tablet properties, but the nature of the devices coupled with their growing scale means publishers have a lot to gain in 2012.