The rise and rise of mobile technology (and selfies)

Each year, communications watchdog, Ofcom, publish their annual Communications Market Report. The findings of the 2014 report were published last week – and they created quite the media storm.

In the early hours of the morning, articles began to appear across national media websites, detailing the UK’s obsessions with our mobile phones. Recent technology allows us to have our schedules, our family, our friends, our work – and really, our whole lives, in the palm of our hands at all times.

The convenience of modern technology creates reliability, and there has been no-end of surveys and studies in recent years that have damned the UK population and our addiction to mobile. Love it or hate it, you can’t deny the strength of the mobile technology sector.


Some of the headline research findings from Ofcom’s report are as follows:


  • 33% of the population would choose a smartphone as their tech device of choice – laptops lagging behind with only 30%
  • On average, we spend almost 2 hours per day on our phones
  • 89% of 16-24 years olds opt to take photographs on their phones, rather than a digital camera
  • 1 in 10 adults take at least one selfie per week
  • The total number of selfies taken last year totals a monumental 1.2 billion


Desktop vs. Mobile

Last year was a landmark year. Mobile phones overtook laptops as the UK’s preferred method of getting online for the first time ever. To me, this isn’t a surprise – smart phones offer a much quicker and easier method of surfing the web, they take away the hassle of having to switch on a bulky laptop, wait for it to load, then click on the browser, wait for that to load etc etc.

Also, when comparing smartphone apps to desktop in general, I find the user experience of the apps I use most (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and MyFitnessPal) much better than the desktop websites. I far prefer posting from a mobile than posting from a laptop screen. Plus, it’s much more likely because my mobile phone is always there. To me, there’s no surprise that we’re ditching desktop.

Also, (perhaps this is just due to the amount of time I spend on my mobile device due to my job), at risk of upsetting the apple cart, I find the statistic regarding the amounts of time we spend on our phones relatively low. Almost two hours? I would have thought that this number would have been much higher. I imagine that the 18-24 research bracket was considerably higher than this national average.


Selfie central

To me, the surprising statistic published in this report is the incredible amount of selfies we take per year. Now, there’s no denying it. I think you’d be hard pushed to find a female – or male for that matter – living in the smartphone era – that doesn’t indulge in a selfie every once in a while. However, one per week is taking things to the extreme.

It’s interesting to think that when I was 12 years old, I had a camera that contained an ACTUAL roll of film. I still remember sending it off in a blue plastic envelope to be developed, and waiting for the exciting day when I’d get the envelope back, returned with all of my photographs in it. Nowadays, you’d be hard pushed to find a child of that age that doesn’t have a smartphone that contains all of their photographs, both selfie and non-selfie.

As with most trends, eventually the themes of previous years come back around. Currently, polaroids and printed photobooth images are having a ‘cool’ moment. However, these are usually seen as a novelty, taken at a one-off event, digital smartphone photography is still the method used most. When it comes to important photographs, most still like to be able to hold and display physical photographs. It’ll be interesting to see how many years it takes the UK population to swap their wedding albums, school photographs and graduation shots for solely digital versions.


Ease or reliance?

With everything available in one device – and the technology included in these devices developing constantly – it’s safe to say that mobile isn’t going anywhere. And, really, is that such a bad thing?

A huge part of my role at Clearsilver is social media, the ability to access client social accounts at the click of a button is vital. I regularly attend client events to live-tweet from the action. This would be made extremely difficult if I had to walk around with a clunky laptop. The growth of mobile has made social media increasingly easy to access, and for me, this is a great thing. Plus, I can’t lie,  like the majority of other UK adults, I LOVE my iPhone. My life is made easier with the ability to run my whole life from one central device.

The importance is balance. There’s no denying that we love our smartphones and the benefits that they bring. If we didn’t, Apple wouldn’t be the tech giants that they are now. However, it’s important to realise when to put your phone down. Don’t be that person that goes out with a friend and sits and texts. Remember to back up your mobile device so all of your data and information isn’t lost if the worst was to happen. And, finally, perhaps think twice if you’re about to upload your sixth selfie of the day to Instagram.


Follow Eve on Twitter @EveEastwood

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Clearsilver Brand Marketing

We set up Clearsilver Brand Marketing in 2006, having spent our early careers with UK Top 50 agencies, building some of the world’s best-known FMCG, pet care and other consumer brands. A full-service agency based in Leeds, we work with clients in a broad range of sectors throughout the UK and Europe.

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