The new app economy – 10 reasons why the future of business is indisputably mobile


The NOAH 2012 Conference kicked off in London’s Billingsgate yesterday and the attendee list read like a Who’s Who of European Investment. With big-hitting VCs such as Klaus Hommels, Lars Hinrichs, Christoph Maire and companies including BDMI, Holtzbrinck, Acton, Atlantic, Index, Yandex, Advent and Accel to name but a few, the event; which focuses on mid-to late-stage investment, was a world away from the usual early and seed-stage shebangs we see on this side of the Atlantic.

We heard more German being spoken within its walls than on the streets of Berlin, while another Tweet wag described it as “50 Shades of Grey (Suits)”.


Among the panel talks on M&As, scalability and customer acquisition, one of the most enlightening discussions was on the future of mobile business. Introduced by an assault of 53 slides of facts and figures from EMEA General Manager Richard Firminger of mobile app analytics firm Flurry, and then joined by industry experts from Madvertise, Apprupt, Snappli, Somo as well as leather-loving conference czar Mike Butcher of TechCrunch, are the take-homes that make a compelling case for businesses to look to the smaller screens:

#1 Smartphones are the fastest-adopted technology we’ve seen

Five years after introduction, it has proven 10x faster than the 80’s PC revolution, twice as fast as the 90’s internet boom and three times as fast as the noughties’ social networking spread.

#2 The potential in developing markets is huge

Carsten Frien, CEO of Madvertise explains: “In developing markets, lots of brands understand that the only way they will be able to reach the consumer is through the mobile: “In markets like India, China, Philippines, Indonesia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, the mobile penetration is more than the desktop already.”

#3 Mobile App usage overtook online in 2011

Figures from Flurry showing that US consumers spent 94 minutes on their smartphones daily, as opposed to 72 minutes online. This has more than doubled from the year before.

#4 It’s a massively growing revenue stream

In-app purchase and paying for downloads was worth around $5.4bn last year, and a projected $8.7bn this year.

#5 “People love native apps”

App usage has also grown – from a daily average of 43 minutes to 94 minutes in about two years. “People love native apps. In fact, most don’t even know what a native app is. They just know those beautiful pieces of content, it’s all inside their smartphone” said Firminger.

mobile panel

Mike Butcher, Eldar Tuvey, Nick Hynes and Carsten Frien discuss the future of mobile at NOAH 2012

#6 The slice of the advertising pie is only set to grow

Flurry predicts that, given these metrics, advertising spend is only set to explode. From $5bn today to a projected $11bn in 2015.

#7 Second-screen viewing has huge potential

Nick Hynes, CEO and founder of SOMO explains: “The most popular time of usage for a mobile is actually between 7pm and 9pm at night, when it’s sitting with you on the sofa watching TV. It’s the most powerful direct response mechanism you’ve ever seen. The advert pops up on TV, and the first thing people reach for is the phone on the coffee table.”

Firminger adds: “Video advertising is one of the most exciting areas. High-definition, 30-second commercials on a tablet is a really exciting challenge.”

#8 Microsoft hasn’t even got going yet

Hynes explains another huge potential in the market: “With tablets and mobiles now entering proper corporate environments, where security, consistency and standards become paramount, we’re going to see a revolutionary change as big as we’ve seen so far. And that’s when we’ll be playing on Windows’ home turf. And when people start getting devices that their companies are providing, that’s going to be a really big influence on what we carry in our pocket…”

#9 And Amazon is a strong new contender

Firminger explains: “Developers find iOS easier to monetise. But we did analysis about three months after the launch of the Kindle Fire. If we set iOS as the 100 per cent benchmark, then Kindle Fire was already at 89 per cent. Developers monetise about four times more on those ecosystems than they do on Android.”

#10 The app market is full of potential

Last word to the ever-eloquent Butcher: “You can bump across any shithead startup in Shoreditch doing mobile apps these days. Songkick is one, but there are few companies that are really acing it in mobile social right now.

“There’s still huge potential in app development and the confluence of mobile devices, apps and hardware. Medical, health tracking, video – it’s going to be really interesting to see where the investors go.”

Image credit: Flickr user J. A. Alcaide

For related posts, check out:

Hello, future – Siri inventor Adam Cheyer’s top 15 tech predictions
Neil Harbisson calls for fewer apps for mobile, more for the body
Riding the tech tide – the future of advertising