More than a few businesses are hoping that mobile will save their bottom line in the coming years. Why is that? For a few reasons. But one factor involves consumer tolerance for ads and charges they reject in the desktop environment. Moreover, mobile adoption is skyrocketing.

According to a new study by Burson-Marsteller and Proof Integrated Communications, smartphone shipments will exceed PC shipments within two years. Marketers need to start paying attention. 

B.L. Ochman,
Burson-Marsteller and Proof Integrated Communications’ managing
director of emerging media, calls this study “be mobile or be dust.” That’s because the mobile adoption numbers it cites are pretty staggering.

According to the study, 80% of the US population will have a mobile phone by 2010. That number alone may not be of note, but cell users are using their phones less for making phone calls and more for digital activities. According to the report, the average iPhone user only spends 45% of on-device time making phone calls. The majority of their time in mobile is spent browsing the web or using applications.

That number has grown 110% in the last year. By 2011, 99% of mobile phones will be data-capable devices (though that number includes phones that can send and receive SMS texts, not necessarily smartphones).

However, by 2012, smartphone shipments will exceed shipments of PCs. Already 40% of iPhone and iPod Touch users go to the internet more via mobile than they do on a computer.

According to the study:

“The speed of mobile adoption growth is far outpacing that of prior technologies, and using mobile to access data and to make transactions is nearing the tipping point. Mobile will soon be the primary digital means that consumers use to interact with brands, friends, retailers and other businesses.”

Smart brands should take note. Mobile devices are pretty amazing purchasing tools. As
Burson-Marsteller points out, mobile users are searching for products,
reading reviews, comparing prices, locating items in stores and making
purchases from their phones.

Mobile users also tend to be more social. Of Facebook’s 500
million users, 100 million of them access the site through their mobile
phones. Those users are twice as active on the social network as non-mobile
users. Also, 25% of mobile users access Twitter, compared to only 8% of
respondents who access the internet only from a PC.

The mobile phone more seamlessly connects the digital and real worlds. It is uniquely positioned to aid in the handling of impulse activities and on demand services.

Most especially, as brands are learning, mobile phone adopters aren’t only young, tech savvy people. A whopping 82% of seniors use their mobile phones to get information and learn.

But
businesses aren’t quite up to speed yet. 80% of US multichannel retailers
don’t have m-commerce capabilities. Furthermore, 42% of those
respondents don’t have plans to launch a mobile site within the next two years.
Only 12% of the top 500 internet retailers have sites optimized for
mobile phones, and only 7% have downloadable mobile applications.

Mobile
phone users are often at the most desirable point of the purchasing
funnel when they’re looking for information with their devices. The
quicker businesses take to mobile, the better off they will be.

Whether it be coupons or ads or location based services, brands that want to reach customers (ie: all brands) should seriously pay attention to this space.