A picture is worth a thousand charts

I regularly receive decks-full of data about the rise of smartphone usage, and the rush to mobile devicesin general.

The statistics are staggering (more on that later) but recently two sets of simple imagesbrought it home for me.

I suddenly realized just how much the world has changed in the last decade.

This first set of images below is from a presentation made by Eduardo Conrado, a senior VP at Motorola.

I saw Conrado speak inNew York last month, as part of this year’s Westfield World Retail Study Tour.

The 2005 shot was takenat the funeral procession of Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square.

The 2013 image was captured at theannouncement of the ascension of Pope Francis, also at the Vatica

The second series of images is from a brilliant talk, again made just last month, by Mary Meeker and Liang Wu of consultancyKPCB (you can watch their whole presentation online).

The story these two pictures tell is selfevident: we are a differentpeople now, empowered by incredibly powerful technology in the palms ofourhands.

I recently had a reality check about this myself, when I realized at a rock concert that I was lookingmore at my screen than at the stage, as I filmed the event.

The past is indeed a foreign country, to quote L.P. Hartley.

It’s sobering and surprising to realize thatthe Apple iPhone wasn’t released until 2007, and yet now many of us consider it (or the equivalent smartphone) to be a constant companion.

If you’ve left your phone at home lately, you’ll know it feelslike you’re missing a limb.The implications for retail are immense.

We are, as David Marcotte of Kantar Retail so deftly puts it,no longer flesh-and-blood consumers but “enhanced people, who are the result of 24/7 mobile”. (Formore, see my column on Marketing to androids linking.)

Great retailers recognize this reality, and welcome smartphone-wielding shoppers, with free wi-fiinstore, QR codes on ticketing, and mobile-friendly applications and websites.

Savvy merchantssee mobile devices as the glue linking offline and online retail, to the point where there really isn’t adividing line at all.I promised you some stats, and here they are.


I could go on with more statistics, but I won’t. Numbers are dry, images are dynamic.

Just askyourself this question: are you swimming with the sea of mobiles, or fighting against the tide?

Jon Bird is CEO of specialist retail marketing agency, IdeaWorks, and chairman of Inside Retail’s publisher,Octomedia. Email: [email protected] Blog: www.newretailblog.com Twitter: @thetweetailer

*Sources for original images: Pope John Paul II funeral procession Luca Bruno – AP; Pope Francis ascensionMichael Sohn – AP; 1990’s crowd image 123RF.com; 2010’s crowd image amadarose.co.uk.

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