Mobile taking over


In December, 1.44bn people checked Facebook on mobiles, a 21% increase. That’s more than the 1.36bn population of China. If you haven’t heard the much-used phrase “mobile is eating the world,” you should now. Or, as a smart journalist once said: desktop is the new print.

Facebook released its Q4 2015 results last week and the numbers are staggering: 1.59bn people now use Facebook monthly and 1.04bn daily, an increase this year of 200m monthly and 148m people daily.

Do you remember when Facebook was just beginning to be wildly popular and was often compared to the size of a country, giving it the sixth biggest population in the world? It seems like a naïve way of getting to grips with what is now a ubiquitous part of the internet, of our lives. Not even The Google seems to remember the year.

Now Facebook is the largest “country” in the world, headlines blare to a population that doesn’t look up from its smartphones as it likes another post.

Perhaps the most interesting figures are how much video is being consumed: Some 500m people are watching 100m hours of video every day. Video has been predicted to be the next big thing for years, and is now taking over mobile.

In November, Facebook said it had 8m daily video views, already nearly double what it had announced six months before. Those 4bn views in April were already coming mostly from mobile (75%). The growth has been steep. In January 2015 it was 3bn views, up from 1bn in September 2014.

The revenue numbers are equally impressive: Total revenue grew 52% to  $5.84bn year-on-year, with advertising revenue growing 57% to $5.63bn (up $2bn from last year). Meanwhile, mobile ad revenue hit $4.5bn, a staggering 81% increase. Most importantly mobile is now 80% of total ad revenue, the social giant says.

Facebook’s stock – being hammered a year ago because it didn’t appear to have a mobile ad strategy – is up 22% over the past year.

Another mobile success story is Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba, which listed in the US in September 2014. Reporting its earning last week of $5.33bn, it said overal revenue grew 32% over last year, with its China retail marketplace revenue growing 35% and mobile revenue increasing 192%. Hello mobile.

Meanwhile, there is talk that gravity-defying Apple might finally begin to feel the market effects that other companies do.

There are rumours that the unrestrained growth of the design-led seller of iDevices is finally slowing down, especially its prime mover the iPhone. It brings in more than two thirds of revenue, and saw slower sales, albeit some 74.8m units. This is a record number, Apple says. But there is persistent fears that there might finally be a decline in iPhone sales. Apple itself is projecting it will sell less iPhones in the March quarter.

Apple had record quarterly profit ($18.4bn) and of quarterly revenue ($75.9bn) but its share price lost 6.5% last Wednesday when these results were announced, a loss of $36bn in the company’s value, Reuters reports. Ouch.

Already Apple’s iPad business is in decline, selling only 16.1m units in Q4, down from 24.4m in the same period the year before. This equates to 25% decrease in sales and 21% drop in revenue dip.

Meanwhile Microsoft had some good news in its results last week, showing a 127% over Q4 2014 in its Azure cloud business, which is the direct competitor for Amazon Web Services. Its overall return was $25.7bn, which is down 2% year-on-year, but ahead of the $25.26 billion expected by Wall Street.

Google’s market value, meanwhile, has surged – or that of its new holding company Alphabet – and eclipsed Apple’s. When Google announced its results on Monday, Apple’s market cap was $539bn and Alphabet’s was $570bn. Just 13 months ago, Apple (at a stratospheric $643bn) was nearly twice Google’s $361bn. For both behemoths, mobile is the most important business frontier. Mobile is eating the world.

This article first appeared on Financial Mail


About Author

Toby Shapshak is editor-in-chief and publisher of Stuff, a Forbes contributor and a Financial Mail columnist. He has been writing about technology and the internet for 20 years and his TED Global talk on innovation in Africa has over 1,5-million views. He has written about Africa's tech and start-up ecosystem for Forbes, CNN and The Guardian in London. He was named in GQ's top 30 men in media and the Mail & Guardian newspaper's influential young South Africans. He has been featured in the New York Times. GQ said he "has become the most high-profile technology journalist in the country" while the M&G wrote: "Toby Shapshak is all things tech... he reigns supreme as the major talking head for everything and anything tech."

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