Outlining a B2C Strategy

lug 4, 2012 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Mobile Solutions

A business-to-consumer (B2C) strategy is built around two pillars. The first, is reaching out to the largest possible number of users; the second is making them happy. Put this way, both pillars seem quite generic and surprisingly closer to wacky open points rather than firm pillars.

The first open point is the definition of the “largest audience possible.” According to statistics by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) —the United Nations (UN) agency responsible for information and communication technologies—there are about 78 mobile devices per 100 inhabitants distributed all over the world, and a peak of 114 per 100 inhabitants in developed countries (see http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics). Overall, it’s about a few billion devices.

Is it critical for your business to reach all of them effectively with some applications? Yes, probably, if you are Facebook or Google but hardly otherwise. If you’re not Google or Facebook, then you might want to segment those numbers a bit more.

Let’s look at smartphones, defining with the term “smartphone,” devices that are sufficiently function-rich for their time. In 2011 the smartphone penetration in the world was approximately 10 percent of the entire base of mobile devices. This number is expected to grow up to 50% of the share over the next three or four years. Is it only 10% of the devices in the world? Yes, but as you may imagine the worldwide distribution of smartphones is not even. The smartphone share is close to 40 percent in North America and about 30 percent in Western Europe. Curiously, the country with the highest smartphone penetration is Italy (around 47 percent currently) and even more surprising, this number is expected to grow well beyond 60 percent by 2014.

By the same token, you might find that in some European countries, 80 percent of the smartphone share, is iPhone. To bring even more uncertainty to the table, consider that owning a smartphone may not be a reliable indicator of being a consumer of (business) apps. It is one thing to use, say, the iPhone to play Angry Birds and update your Facebook status; it is quite another to use the iPhone to do online banking.

A mobile strategy—especially a B2C mobile strategy—is a business strategy well before it becomes an IT strategy. Numbers are important but are nothing without interpretation. If your business is selling ringtones or news, then you need to reach out to the widest possible audience with a specific app, regardless of the devices they’re using. If you sell services, then your primary objective is making it easier for all users to consume your services; particularly easily and comfortably for some of them.  Most of time this entails a combination of a mobile site, optimized for a few classes of devices, and one or two mobile apps for the most popular mobile platforms among your users.

Dino Esposito

CTO of a company that provides software and mobile services to professional sports, Dino is a well-known ASP.NET expert who has written several popular books, including Microsoft .NET: Architecting Applications for the Enterprise, Programming Microsoft ASP.NET, and Programming ASP.NET MVC, all for Microsoft Press. His latest book, Architecting Mobile Solutions for the Enterprise has just been published by Microsoft Press and is available for sales.

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