One of the questions constantly dogging the mobile marketing industry is, “How many cell phones are there in Canada?” Because we are building a business around Smartphone users, the more important question becomes, “How many Canadians are using their web-enabled Smartphone for activities beyond texting and talking?”
The bad news is that good stats on this stuff are frustratingly difficult to find – and if research does exist about the Canadian market, we probably couldn’t afford to buy it. If you work for some big corporation and get the skinny sent to your inbox – share the wealth!
The good news is that we know Canadians are adopting Smartphones faster than any other form of mobile device – and the rate of adoption is astonishing.
Check out this interview with Mike Wehrs of the Mobile Marketing Association during Fall 2009 Mobile Innovation Week. To be sure, the quality of devices on the market, availability of high quality 3G mobile broadband networks and a greater awareness amongst the general population that mobile services now extend beyond voice, text and email, are all factors causing Smartphones to fly off the shelves and into the hands of consumers all across the country.
Qualitative observations are good and all, but what about hard numbers? The challenge comes in terms of actual measurement of device sales because no one is really set up to report these things. The device manufacturers don’t break their reporting down within the Canadian market and wireless carriers do not publish their sales data (to my knowledge) because it is competitive info. If they released it, it could impact sales of certain devices.
We have done our homework and looked at various sources for the best data out there. In the end, we can say that in 2010, approximately 5-million Canadians will use their mobile device to access the Internet. For our industry friends and clients is important to be able to cite the source of this statement and we’re happy to share our source. This number comes from what I consider to be the most relevant and reliable(albeit not exactly recent) research done by Nielson Online which was released in Q2 2009. You can download the press release from the report here :canadia_mobileq12009
As you will see in the report, Neilsen pegged mobile Internet usage at 3.9 million Canadian’s as of Q1 2009. From Q4 2008 to Q1 2009 the report states the penetration of Smartphones had grown from 16% to 21.3% over the quarter – a growth rate of 5.3% per quarter.
If we were to hold this growth across 4 quarters to the end of Q1 2010 – the equation would look like:
FV= (3,900,000 x 1.053)4 = 4,794, 488
So that is where we are now…approximately. If anyone in the community has research that supports or refutes these numbers, please drop a comment or send me an email. We’d love to add to the discussion.
If we extrapolate the growth rate to the end of Q4 2010, or 7 quarters from when the data was gathered, we get:
FV= (3,900,000 x 1.053)7 = 5,559,839
Now that all 3 carriers are now selling the iPhone is a significant factor impacting Smartphone uptake in Q4 2009 and Q1 2010. From our industry observation, iPhones in Canada are selling like hot cakes and I believe this would put these numbers somewhere higher than this- but that is speculation and merely my opinion. However, some new research has come out to support this view.
A recent conversation with a manager at a downtown wireless store (which shall remain unnamed) led to him sharing some of their recent research on Smartphone sales. The question posed by an independent market research firm was, “What will your next mobile phone purchase be?”
According to the research, 50% of all respondents said their next phone would be a Smartphone and perhaps what is most telling, the results showed the next Smartphone device respondents planned on purchasing was even dead-heat between iPhone at 15%, Blackberry at 14% and Other (we’ll call it Android) at 13%.
Despite the fact that it is hard to find accurate and citation-worthy sources on mobile adoption and penetration rates for a country seemingly obsessed with Smartphones, the data that is coming out is very promising. One doesn’t really need to look much further than observing on the street how many people are using Smartphone devices and they are using them to do more than ever before. This trend will likely continue and we are proud to have launched Canada’s first location-based mobile coupon service because other research and observations show that Canadian’s just love a good deal. The ability to marry these two entrenched aspects of what it means to be a Canadian consumer through a simple and easy to use technology is a tremendous opportunity.
In January 2010, Clip Mobile launched their location-based mobile coupon applications for the iPhone, iPod touch and Android devices. In less than a month, Clip has been downloaded by over 1600 users and has offers from over 50 different merchants at over 257 locations across Canada. We are very excited because every day more deals and merchants are being added to the service and development is on track to deliver a beta version of Clip for Blackberry in late March, providing our revolutionary service to the largest Smartphone user group in Canada! Just how many Blackberry users are there? We’ll have to save that for another post 🙂