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2010 Mobile Year-In Review

A big thanks to Will Hurwitz for today’s post!

As we’ve discussed over the last year, all signs continue to suggest the mobile phone – long known as the “third screen” for media consumption after computers and television – is becoming the medium of choice for consumers to gather information and interact with their worlds. comScore’s 2010 Mobile Year-In Review suggests that 2010 was a break-out year for the mobile phone and its role in average consumers’ lives.

While the audience of mobile media users in the U.S. increased a whopping 20 percent in 2010, the most staggering changes were in frequency of use, which highlight the rapidly increasing importance of mobile phones in consumers’ lives. According to the study, for many users mobile media consumption including email, news and information and social networking is no longer “an occasional activity, perhaps even a novelty,” but is instead “an essential service they depend on every day.”

Social networking had the most significant growth in the U.S. with the number of daily users increasing 80 percent. According to the study, in December 2010 alone, over half of U.S. smartphone users – a total of 36.2 million people – accessed social networking sites or blogs at least once.

In large part, consumers are doing so much more with their phones because phones can do so much more. Giant leaps in smartphone device technology – larger screens, viable standalone cameras, video recording, full keyboards, touch screens, intuitive user interfaces, Internet connectivity, GPS and more – are making the smartphone prominent in daily life. And consumers are flocking to these new devices. According to comScore, in 2010 four of the top five purchased devices in the U.S. were smartphones, with the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 taking the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively.

While the desktop has long been the central technology appliance for the home user, we believe changes in mobile device technology and consumer behavior are elevating the phone to “first screen” status. Services once available only on more powerful computers are now available through phone applications – on phones, users can stream Netflix movies, purchase books on Amazon, bid on eBay auctions, log into Facebook, read restaurant reviews on Yelp, make reservations on OpenTable, listen to Pandora and so much more.

In addition, applications like LogMeIn Ignition allow users to remotely access their desktops from their phones. As phones become more and more powerful and user interfaces improve, making it easier and more pleasant to interact through smaller devices, we believe there’s nothing to stop the phone from becoming the home’s primary centralizing device.

These trends will continue to accelerate this year. The iPhone’s very successful release on Verizon, new applications, faster mobile Internet connections and constantly improving handsets promise to drive smartphones and mobile media consumption even more into the mainstream 2011. As college alumni old and new increasingly rely on this technology, we believe it is critical for schools to meet their constituents where they are.  Mobile alumni engagement can complement today’s efforts and we believe it will soon become the primary way that alumni engage with their institutions and with one another.

Ever True!