Seizing the Moments Is Essential to Mobile Dominance

True power in mobile belongs not to apps, but to the platforms that own mobile moments and can sell them at a profit while dictating the rules of engagement. That’s the crux of a new report, “Mobile Platforms, Partners, and Power,” released this week by Forrester Research, which points out that financial investors value the accrual of user minutes by leaders such as Facebook and Google more than they value those platforms’ revenue streams.

The future of mobile success lies in the consolidation of apps and services, says Forrester analyst Julie Ask, because that’s what consumers want to more speedily work their devices. “They want to get in, get something done, and get out. They still download many apps but their behavior is shifting toward platforms,” Ask writes.

Facebook has managed to seize the most mobile moments with 13% of total minutes, followed by Google at 12%. (Forrester notes that Google’s actual share is likely higher owning to its ownership of the leading Android operating system.)  Apple and Amazon each hold 3%, Yahoo owns 2%, and Microsoft and eBay have 1% apiece.

At the same time, Forrester maintains that individual category leaders such as LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Twitter can continue to flourish operating autonomously. Collectively, category leaders own 24% of mobile, plus they hold an advantage over platforms in the quality of their specialized customer data.

“Players that are strong in a single category may be even more valuable partners because they lack the dominance of the mobile power players and can deliver unique audiences,” Ask writes.” eBay offers the largest person-to-person marketplace; Twitter has broad reach as a global platform for public conversation; Pandora leads in the fragmented music category; and Yelp offers a great example of how to build an ecosystem.”

The platforms will dominate smaller players, Forrester says, with the wealth of their contextual data that lets them to generate and act on insights much faster. This will be of significant value as mobile behavior is divvied up by “micro” or “glanceable” moments, such as a check of a smartwatch, a brief look at a text, or indicators on thermostats or toothbrushes.

Forrester cautions that, due to the newness of the marketplace and the fickleness of consumers, the current cast of mobile mavens is subject to change. The report points to the quick demise of Facebook’s Poke service, which quickly rose to number one in the Apple Store after its December 2012 launch. “Within a few days, Snapchat—a very similar service—had pulled ahead and never looked back,”  Ask writes.

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