Arthur Goldstuck is highly regarded in the mobile, internet and business space. As the Founder of World Wide Worx, a technology marketing research organisation, and award-winning author, journalist and expert commentator, it is not difficult to see why. Heavy Chef got the opportunity to pick his brain on some of the most intriguing research that World Wide Worx is currently involved in, as well as some of his future predictions.
In a recent interview, you stated that this is the year of a mobile smartphone revolution. Has this arrived yet? Or do you think there is still more to come?
It’s arrived with a vengeance, completely upending the business models of the mobile networks. Vodacom revenue for the past year showed around 2% growth for voice and 28% for data. This is strongly driven by the smartphone H. However, this is just the beginning. Next year will be the year when smartphone sales overtake feature phones for the first time, and the trend will intensify thereafter.
How do you think expensive data in South Africa will affect/change connectivity for the majority of South Africans?
The high cost of data means the haves keep having more and many of the have-nots remain frozen out of the data story. Despite this, however, even limited data use is bringing millions of South Africans onto the Internet stage, allowing them to play at least a small part in this story. It will be many years, and many price cuts, however, before the mass market experiences the mobile Internet in high-definition, both literally and figuratively.
In your opinion, will social networking continue to be the biggest source for seeking information from peers? Will 2013 see an even bigger trend?
The key trend that will underpin all other digital trends in 2013 will be the beginning of acceleration in the number of experienced users on the Internet, which is a certainty premised on the beginning of acceleration of new users on the Internet five years previously. We refer to this as the Digital Participation Curve, and next year sees a major inflection point as the curve turns sharply upward. This will result in an intensification of all forms of use of the Internet in South Africa, but particularly in social media. Social networks will be a vital source of news, information, social activity and personal expression – possibly the most vital and widespread we have ever seen. It will have many effects on society that we cannot yet imagine.
How do you envision companies using video differently in the future in order to connect to consumers?
Video is one of the core areas where we will see the beginning of a reshaping of media consumption habits. YouTube will, for now, show the way, acting as a search engine, entertainment channel and marketing vehicle. The questions companies ask today about Twitter feeds and Facebook pages will be asked tomorrow about YouTube channels and embedding video into corporate web sites. Our eye-tracking audits of web sites show that video is an instant attractor. Most companies remain focused on static content, but they won’t be able to ignore this shift for long.
Are you working on any interesting research at the moment that you can share with us?
Our new Mobility 2012 study is being released next week, and will show the extent to which the mobile device is driving social media growth in South Africa. Some numbers startled us, others showed that people’s intentions of what they’d like to use often don’t translate into action. Nevertheless, the mobile market shifted substantially in the past 18 months, and there are surprises in store for some brands. The biggest surprises will be in the new shape of instant messaging in South Africa.
In early August our new Internet Access in SA 2012 report will be released, and it contains analysis of current growth trends that shows ADSL has stagnated while mobile broadband has exploded. It also shows precisely why 2013 will be such a big year for the Internet in South Africa.
At the end of August we will release the final SME Survey 2012 report, where we also have some interesting insights into how small businesses are using social media – but mostly now they’re not using it.
And finally, in September, we unveil the 2013 edition of our annual Social Media Landscape report with Fuseware. Our exploration of the shape of Twitter and Facebook in particular will be a fascinating insight into the new ways South Africans are communicating. The study will also delve into the demographics of instant messaging in South Africa, and reveal just why it is such a powerful force.
This may explain why I am, right now, 1185 emails behind.
Wow, this all sounds fascinating, we cannot wait to get the facts and figures behind these reports. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us, especially with such a demanding number of emails awaiting you!
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