10 billion apps downloaded from Apple, vs 7 trillion txt messages sent in 2010. Which is more powerful? Which gets more hype? How should you talk to your fans on mobile?

The app store hitting 10 billion downloads is impressive, and it happened fast. There is no denying apps have been the story of 2010, and probably 2009. So its no surprise when most bands and managers ask me about mobile, it is about an iphone app.. But lets take a look at the big mobile picture.

This info is widely available but I’m pulling my core stats from a great in depth article on year end stats over at courtesy of Communities Dominate Brands. (A blog you need to read if your involved in mobile).
The CTIA site also has good us numbers for the US market:

Globally SMS reaches 79% of mobile users. The US is closer to 70%
4.2 Billion active users of SMS text messaging worldwide. In the US, 12 months ending June 2010, more than 1.8 trillion text messages were sent and received (or 4.9 billion per day).CTIA stats

26% of mobile users world wide access the mobile web. In the US it’s 38%. This translates to 1.2 billion people worldwide, close to 100 million in the US.

1.2 Billion mobile phone users surf the web on their phones. 500 million use apps. Mobile web has more than twice the reach globally.

But its closer in US according to comscore:

In August, 2010, 75.6 million mobile subscribers ages 13 and older used downloaded applications, with Smartphone users representing 60.4 percent, up from 43.6 percent in August 2009. For the same period, 80.8 million mobile subscribers used their browser, with Smartphone subscribers comprising 55.5 percent, up from 41.4 percent a year ago.

Comscore Statistics 2010

So how do you make a plan?


The numbers I’m seeing show more music fans are on the mobile web. I’ve launched over 15 artist apps and have data on over 50 artist sites. The monthly uniques from mobile web beat the total app download numbers for each artist.

For major artists, downloads of 100,000 apps is not a given, but considered good, even when the app is free. I’ve seen the same type of artists deliver over 200,000 unique mobile visitors to their site in just one month. Out of the top 20 artist sites on WBR, most have 20-30% uniques from mobile already.

App downloads vs uniques is not an exact comparison, but it shows the number of fans already using the mobile web is too big to ignore. I’m not surprised many music fans are already getting most of what they need and want from the artist mobile site. New tour dates, photo, classic fan drivers that work perfect on a mobile website, with a fraction of the cost and development.

None of this should stop you from an apps strategy as long as you use the info. Apps need to go to the next level. They need to be more than aggregators or they will simply be integrated by more powerful aggregators.

Start by making sure your site works on the most popular handsets.

Optimize for mobile. Deliver a light weight mobile specific sites to fans, content optimized for at least the main handsets.

Make sure content tailored for the behavior of mobile users. Less options are better, focus on core news, tour dates, and photos.

Build SMS lists. It’s hard. Start now. Use SMS as a viral mechanism along with your “tweet” this buttons.

Learn what your mobile users want and optimize again. Making the experience tailored to fans is even more important with mobile so make sure your watching behavior.

App upsell – figure out how to use the unique properties of apps to take your fan further down the “path”. Recognize them if you have an app on their platform and push them from mobile web with choice of app “upgrade”. Make sure its worth it if they take you up on it!

Talk to apps – finally – make sure your web site and social networks properly feed mobile aggregators with mobile links (facebook app, rss apps) so you can capture your fans everywhere!

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@jblogg - Vr, Music, Robots