I’ve been feeling for a while that mobile technology and social media have become one of those rare but meaningful convergences that can happen between technology and culture. These don’t come around that often, remember Macs and desktop printing? The signs of this convergence are clear in social media:
- 25% of all Facebook users access it via mobile devices
- It took Facebook only 3 years to get to 100 million users on mobile
- Foursquare is about to hit one million users
- Twitter is up to 50 million tweets per day – (yes I know, many of these are from desktop clients, but more on that below)
At the same time that social media has grown the growth and adoption of mobile devices has shot up at an unprecedented rate. The chart below, from Morgan Stanley, shows how the mobile internet has ramped up at a screamingly high rate compared to desktop internet adoption.
Even more portentous is this chart showing that the number of Mobile users will exceed the number of desktop users within 5 years…or sooner.
So what does the rise of Mocial (a term I borrow with thanks from @edwardboches), tell us and what does it mean for the future.
First of all it tells us that sometimes hardware and software just need to catch up to each other to create the killer app, or in this case the killer environment. The reason social is growing at such a high rate is not only because of our DNA as inherently social creatures, (although that is a factor). Its also because of the growth of mobile technology and its DNA of speed, ubiquity and accessibility. Mobile devices are easy to use, can go just about anywhere and most importantly save social users the most important currency that they own: Time and attention.
Time and attention are perhaps the most valuable commodities we have left. For me, Twitter has been the essential step in the growth of Mocial, not only because of its birth on a mobile platform, but also because of its use of the 140 character tweet that forced me to encapsulate a status message in a way that took less time out of my day. While the bulk of tweeting is now done on desktop clients, it still contains the same ethos of brevity and the moment that originated on the mobile platform. Twitter’s Mocial DNA of “what are you doing?” made its way to Faceboo and inspired to a large degree by Facebook mobile apps contributed greatly to Facebook’s growth over the past 3 years.
The other part of the Mocial equation is on the mobile side with the growth of smartphone Apps. The meteoric rise of Apps, first on the iPhone and now on Android has enabled more than the adoption of a technology, it has brought about the adoption of a new and unique Mocial user experience. A critical part of this user experience relies on the ability of app enabled smartphones to turn on and connect instantly while delivering a focused application and utility. Maybe this is why Twitter’s latest acquisition was of Tweetie, a mobile client, instead of one of its popular desktop clients.
So if bringing mobile and social together begets Mocial, What does this mean going for the future? Assuming that mobile adoption continues to grow the importance of Mocial is just going to continue to grow along with it. Yesterday’s announcements by Facebook, (more on that soon), certainly confirms this. What is also happening is that Mocial has begun to influence web design, online culture and user experience much more strongly than before. This can be seen in discussions of distributed content, design for Mobile first and a continued interest among marketers and clients around the ever changing concept of engagement. Mocial is more than just a technology or a software platform, it is a cultural communications environment that is going to continue to grow and change rapidly and one that we will have to keep growing and changing with.