With the creation of the iPhone and the subsequent development of android devices, mobile phones and tablets have become the go to option for majority of people accessing information via the internet. The use of both phones and tablets is now so pervasive, that in 2018, 63% of all internet connections in the UK, were made using either a mobile phone or tablet. Mobile connections constituted the larger proportion of usage at 48%. (Statista 2018).
The mobile market in its totality, equates to nearly 6 billion subscriptions worldwide, representing nearly 87 per cent of the world’s population. In the United States alone, there are nearly 325 million mobile subscriptions, translating to a 103 per cent penetration rate. Social media platforms like Facebook, process vast amounts of bits of data, with 2.5 million status updates, and 300 million photo uploads being added daily, much of that information is sent via mobile devices.
There are a myriad of brands providing choice for the consumer when choosing an internet connecting device, and with multiple offerings from companies such as Samsung, iPhone and kindle fire, device manufactures certainly anticipate continued growth in this market.
To put the sheer size of the smartphone market and its projected growth into perspective, we need look no further than the Global market, where it continues to dominate. Smartphones, tablets and their associated industries, rake in a large proportion of global profits, and although the sale of new models is experiencing a slight decline, this does not equate to a slowing down in user numbers. There has been a small shift in focus among users in preference towards apps, as the latest devices have come in at higher price points, however global market projections continue to predict strong growth for the future.
This size, scale and growth in the sector, is reflected by actions taken by tech giants such as Google. In 2015, google started to omit mobile non-compatible websites, from its search results with its mobile friendly update. In recognition of the consumer’s trend towards increased mobile and tablet browsing, Google’s mobile friendly update, signified a turning point for web masters and businesses alike. Neither could afford to deny, or ignore the impact and significance of the mobile revolution, and its importance for business.
Much of this is underpinned by behavioral norms that have been created through the use of this relatively new technology. The smartphone; used to be seen as a luxury item, a sophisticated accessory that conferred status to the owner. What was once a want; a desire to own a high tech piece of gadgetry, has now become a near necessity. Much of the time, we navigate the modern landscape of contemporary life, through the medium of smartphone technology. Interactions and communications – financial, work based, social and a plethora of everything in between, are conducted increasingly through the smartphone or tablet. For people living in developed countries, this is a behavior and culture for most, which has become second nature. What began life as a corporate enterprise device in its first iteration, has now become an all-encompassing modern tool, which is quickly closing the gap between the general consumer centric, and the enterprise centric markets.
In addition, the introduction of services such as 4G, internet hotspots and wifi in public spaces, has seen ‘on the go’ usage of mobile devices skyrocket. Not only have mobile device users adopted real time social networking into their daily lives, but also the frequency of access, continues to increase day by day. (Strategy Analytics, 2012). The stats bear witness to this, as according to Ofcom, at least 37% of adults, and 60% of teens, admit they are highly addicted to their Smartphone, and a further 51% of adults and 65% of teens say they have used their Smartphone while socializing with others. Further data supports the claim made by Ofcom that – ‘The UK is now a smartphone society,’ with over a third of adults (34%), waking up and immediately checking their phones within five minutes of consciousness. Young people are also prone to checking their social media messages before eating breakfast. This number constitutes around half (49%) of the population of people aged between 18-24, who engage in some sort of social media interaction, within five minutes of waking up (Ofcom 2015).
Another study in the US, calculated that in total, 79% of mobile device users, check said device, within 15 minutes of waking up. Interestingly some of these numbers, virtually parallel the statistics for newspaper readers decades ago, and illustrate the paradigm shift the smartphone revolution has brought to bear on culture, particularly with regards to the way we access information and interact.
“Why does it matter if particular thoughts or ideas are top of mind. Because accessible thoughts and Ideas lead to action.” Jonah Berger
The significance of psychological influence, and opportunity it presents for business, by winning minds through the medium of the mobile phone or tablet cannot be overstated. The vast proportion of tablet and smartphone users, are already primed for this, as has been shown through the various stats regarding general use, frequency and altogether reliance on mobile devices in today’s society.
This is in no small part due to the triggers and cues companies already employ as a marketing device, which create what we can define as a hook cycle. This, as we shall see, is a highly effective tool for companies promoting their products or services through the digital sphere. The hook cycle, so dubbed by Nir Nyal, in his book Hooked, (how to build habit forming products), is identified as a process of behavioral change undergone by users, when a product or service they are introduced to, shapes habit forming behavior over time. This is done through a mechanism of trigger and reward, which further leads the user to action and investment.
Our habits emerge as a result of our brains wanting to save time, or an association with a reward such as stress relief. In most instances we will go back and repeat the behavior that provided an instance of gratification, or an outlet for stress. For example, the habit of on line shopping, may emerge in a person because they subconsciously associate a sense of instant gratification with the action of completing a purchase. The mere experience of something that is related to that feeling, (in some cases simply the act of picking up the smart device itself) can trigger them into action.
Companies like Google, Amazon, twitter, Facebook and Pinterest enjoy huge revenues as market leaders through this association with the old familiar habit of using their platforms. They are proof that the deployment of the hook cycle into the waking lives of millions of consumers, is already being carried out in a multitude of ways online. Users are essentially already hooked, and this obviously represents
huge business potential which can be exploited by an enterprise, through providing effective and engaging interactive content.
According to industry insiders, throughout the day users typically engage in as many as 150 sessions on their mobile device. This can be seen as 150 habit forming opportunities, 150 opportunities to place a business in front of a potential consumer. Provided that the content can deliver the trigger and reward, this will lead to action and ultimately investment. With this in mind, an Interactive and immersive solution such as a virtual tour, should be considered an effective conduit through which to hook in customers and expose them to a business’ product or service. It is however, only as effective as the medium through which it is experienced. That is to say, if most of the people you want to reach, choose either a mobile phone or tablet as a medium when connecting to the internet, it follows that an effective business, will incorporate mobile friendly solutions, as part of a development strategy. The case for this is made all the more cogent when considering projected user growth. As we’ve seen, the data indicates that mobile and tablet use will continue to grow exponentially.
Mobile phone and tablet compatibility, is therefore critical to companies, who want to remain relevant in today’s market, and an essential element in maximizing exposure through the use of an interactive tour.
Features opportunities and benefits as they relate to the interactive 360 tour experienced via the tablet or smartphone are plentiful. As discussed previously, we have frequency of use and an ever increasing number of users accustomed to the culture of familiarity with habit forming, digital products. The average user moreover, is not only accustomed to this, he or she are by now, subconsciously expectant, that the next digital innovation they come across ticks these boxes.
The 360 interactive tour provides this by delivering an immersive experience that can be had on the go. There is also the added benefit of users sharing the experience among friends as it is unique and still in its infancy. The interested generated by something new and innovative alone provides significant exposure for businesses who utilize 360 as a tech solution.
The 360 interactive tour also incorporates many functional characteristics that the end user will want and expect from a digital product. As the habit of using mobiles and tablets to navigate the internet and access online services has been already formed, most users are already conversant with its format, features and functions on an intuitive level. The interactive features of a 360 tour when viewed on a tablet or smartphone, are second nature to users, they are already highly accustomed to interaction with digital environments via touch screen functionality.
This translates to the environment and landscape of say a golf course or a Fitness facility, being experienced in a new and innovative, yet very familiar way, cultivating a powerful sense of association. As previously discussed, this association or ‘hook,’ leads time and time again to action and investment. In the case of the hospitality industries, this can equate to membership or other revenue generating opportunities. It should also be noted that future developments in the field of interactive content, include VR and augmented reality. Both are compatible with; and complimentary to, 360 solutions.
With VR and augmented reality earmarked as the next progressive step for interactive content use, implementing a mobile and tablet compatible 360 tour, is an astute and logical step for businesses to take. It ensures readiness, as we move forward into the next phase of digital customer interaction.