How December 2012 Proved the Future is Mobile

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The Epic Rise of Mobile

According to global app development agency, Flurry, on 25 December 2012, 17.4 million new mobile devices were activated – more than on any other day in history.

To put this figure into perspective, during the first 20 days of December, there were approximately 4 million new mobile activations per day. That means that on Christmas day, activations increased by 332% – a monstrous difference in its own right, but equally so when compared with last year’s Christmas day figure of 6.8 million activations.

Note that these activations came from iOS and Android devices including iPhones, iPads, Galaxy devices, Kindle Fires and more.

But, what all these new activations also meant was that a record number of apps (328 million) were downloaded throughout the day. This is in comparison to the previous year where downloads peaked between 8 and 9pm on December 25.

According to Distimo – an app insight agency, Apple app store downloads jumped by 87% on Christmas day, increasing revenues by 70%. Distimo suggests that the top 10 downloaded iOS apps, worldwide (excluding those made by Apple) were: YouTube, Google Maps, ElfYourself by Office Max, Where’s my Holiday?, Skype for iPad, Subway Surfers, Flow Free, Furby, Instagram, Emoji & Unicode Icons.

App growth over Christmas 2012


Drilling down into the mobile v. tablet figures

Of the mobile devices that were activated in the first 20 days of December, the smartphone to tablet ratio was 4:1. On December 25, this number changed significantly, with tablets accounting for 51% of the mobile devices that were activated. The winners were the Apple iPad, the Apple iPad Mini, and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7″.

According to a BI Intelligence report, in 2010, there were approximately 17 million tablet shipments. In 2011 this figure jumped to 65 million and in 2012 soared to 122 million.

While these figures don’t tell us much about the demographic using tablets, they do tell us that these computing devices are becoming increasingly more important and that they will likely change the way we use the internet, the way we shop and the way we store information.

BI Intelligence has created a tablet shipments forecast. You can view the report here.

tablet growth


Mobile Devices versus Desktop

Mixpanel is a web analytics provider that analyses online actions in order to compile data that can help web and mobile users make informed decisions. On December 25, 2012, Mixpanel analysed 695 online millions actions and found that on Christmas day, consumer activity was almost evenly split between mobile and desktop devices, with mobile devices slightly ahead – 51% compared to 49%. This is in comparison to the previous Tuesday (December 18, 2012) when mobile devices were used for only 40% of all online actions.


christmas day activity pie chart

Mixpanel also concluded that for those using mobile devices, 98% of the traffic came from Android or iOS apps. The breakdown there forth is as follows: 54% from iPhone apps, 44% from Android and the remaining 2% through the mobile day activity pie chart 2

Mobile and Ecommerce

FAB ecommerce success

Online design giant Fab announced that for the 2012 Christmas season they smashed all their previous mobile shopping days – over 56% of Fab’s US revenue and 40% of its European revenue came from its mobile apps on Christmas. Both were records for the company.

On Christmas day, mobile accounted for more than 50% of Fab’s overall revenue. CEO Jason Goldberg says he predicted this as on Thanksgiving they had also seen a huge spike in mobile traffic. Both occasions are times when family get together and share their favourite apps, sit down and talk.

Fab’s iOS app was rebuilt after they realised that last summer, approximately 30 to 40% of their traffic came from mobile devices. Their new iOS app “took a from-scratch approach to mobile, challenging ourselves to rethink and re-imagine the Fab experience from the ground-up as if it was designed entirely with the mobile shopper in mind.”


What these statistics imply:

Given that on December 25, 2012 there were 328 million app downloads, it’s well worth thinking about how your own clients use apps and whether or not there is a way you can break into the app market. If you’ve already got an app, make sure to update it or to tweak it to fit the holiday seasons.

The fact is: apps are big and they are only going to get bigger – just take a look at the Windows 8 interface or at how tablet purchases are expected to quadruple over the next few years.

Apart from thinking about getting an app that will help cement your position in the mobile marketplace, make sure that you’ve got a website that works across major mobile devices (whether smartphone or tablet). This is especially important if you own an online store.