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Could we be Approaching a Mobile Endpoint?

Ever since the original iPhone brought the conversations of what mobile devices could do to the mainstream, we’ve been captivated by watching them grow. From simple communication systems, apps, and games came immense environments, filled to the digital brim with powerful tools and entertainment opportunities. No growth can be eternal, however, and this raises the question of how far we could be from a real plateau in mobile adoption.

Where we Stand

At this point, mobiles have utterly usurped a great many traditional forms of digital entertainment and tool uses. This is well illustrated by the percentage of online traffic coming from mobile devices. In the first quarter of 2015, this proportion stood at 31.16%, according to Statista. In the first quarter of 2020, this had risen to 51.92%. Mobiles had better convenience over traditional PCs and laptops, even if the fit was usually slightly more cramped on their smaller screens, and this advantage proved enough.

It’s not just browsing that has seen an uptick in mobile integration either, also standing strong are engagement with video systems like YouTube and Netflix. As Hootsuite reports, in 2020, over 70% of YouTube views come from mobiles. While Netflix traffic numbers are not publicly available, a strong but perhaps not as skewed performance is expected here.

For a typical example of the average user, we could turn to something like the online games on WDW Bingo. Here, browsing different websites, collecting bonuses, and playing games of bingo are all perfectly suited to the mobile experience. As a prime demonstration of services that are well-adapted to mobiles, these systems offer no downside to their traditional access counterparts. In essence, this is the same idea to which other avenues aspire.

Limitations on Upwards Momentum

So, why is it that we expect mobile momentum to soon slow? The crux of the matter relates to mobile’s growth so far being in filling their potential. Once this potential is met, as it could soon be, growth could slow considerably, at least in the developed world.

Take television and movies as an example. Yes, many of us like YouTube on our mobiles, and some of us like Netflix, but how much? Are we willing to forgo a more engaging audio-visual experience on bigger screens for the sake of convenience? For most of us, we draw a strict line in the sand, a line which convenience alone will never be enough to cross.

The same can be said for some types of gaming. While smaller experiences can be undeniably better fits on mobile, the same cannot be said for larger games. Here, limitations of control could be the ultimate mitigating factors, as there could be issues with the mobile processor speed and display size.

Ultimately, the fact that we’ll hit a ceiling on mobile adoption to the point where we plateau is a functional inevitability. Where we draw this line on a personal level, however, depends on your tastes. True, most of us won’t abandon traditional television and gaming, but some of us will. Couple this with the fact that a great deal of the developing world is just now speeding up their mobile adoption rates, and it could some be years yet before a resting place is met. At least, no matter where we end up, the result will be a greater choice for everyone.


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