How Will Mobile Devices Change The Photography Market?

Posted on 1/26/2012 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Mobile communication is rapidly changing the way the world gets information. More and more of the information we need will be delivered via mobile devices. This shift is likely to change the demand for visual materials. Here are some things to consider as you plan for the future.

According to mobithinking there are currently 6 billion cell phone subscribers worldwide. China and India are rapidly approaching 1 billion subscribers each. The U.S. is the third largest cell phone user.

Of the 6 billion, 1.2 billion are active mobile broadband subscribers. South Korea and Japan are the leading countries for mobile broadband penetration. The UK and US are ranked 21st and 24th, respectively. However, 90% of mobile subscribers in the U.S. and Western Europe have phones with the capability of accessing the mobile web. Over 85% of all new handsets manufactured will be able to access the mobile web. 45% of the world’s population is now covered by a 3G network.

Gartner expected worldwide mobile advertising spend in 2011 to be $3.3 billion once all the figures are in. Google’s share of that will be $2.5 billion. By 2015 worldwide mobile ad spend is expected to be $20.6 billion.  (Mobile is included in the “online” totals published earlier this week.)

As is obvious from Google’s dominance most of the money is going into search ads rather than display advertising. According to Google 1 in 7 searches are now made from mobile devices. Of the people who react to seeing a mobile ad: 42 percent click on the ad; 35 percent visit the advertiser’s site; 32 percent search for more information on their phone; 49 percent make a purchase and 27 percent call the business.

Over 50% of total mobile ad spend is used to promote local products and services. Local users are expected to make up 70% of the market by 2015.  This means fewer dollars will be spent for advertising that needs photos. Most mobile ads will probably be text oriented. The photos used will often need to be specific to a local advertiser, not generic. Short videos may be more effective on the small screen than individual stills. Much of the imagery needed may be shot on mobile devices.   

World adoption of near field communication (NFC) standards for smartphones and similar devices will increase the use of m-payments which totaled $240 billion in 2011 and are expected to reach $1 trillion by 2015. NFC allows the establishment of radio communication between two devices by touching them together. Today, 47 million Japanese have tap-and-go phones, and in China there will be 169 million users of tap-and-go payments in 2013.

In July 2010 Jeff Bezos said, “In the last 12 months customers around the world have ordered more than $1 billion of products from Amazon using mobile devices.” Within 5 years mobile is expected to overtake the PC as the most popular way to access the web. Currently, mobile internet users outnumber fixed Internet users by a ratio of 5:2

Copyright © 2015 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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