At the turn of the year, your mind naturally turns to what the next 12 months may hold. And as the head of the team which develops Sky's ever-expanding range of mobile apps, I'm naturally keen to have as much insight as possible into the trends that may emerge in mobile during 2012.
With that in mind, today we’re releasing some specially commissioned research from Mintel looking at the popularity of mobile tablets and smartphones. And despite the generally gloomy economic outlook, the data shows the British public’s appetite for mobile tablets shows no signs of slowing down: 8% of respondents in our research received a tablet over Christmas, which is on top of the 9% of the British population who already own one (according to Ofcom research released last year). Additionally, 16% intend to purchase a mobile tablet in the year ahead.
These are extraordinary statistics, especially when you look at them alongside further data released by Ofcom at the back end of last year that revealed half of the UK’s population now owns a smartphone.
So what’s driving this interest? Well, the survey says that one in three respondents say watching film, TV and other video is a key reason for buying a tablet, alongside listening to music (48%), social networking (48%), internet access (67%) and keeping up to date with the news (40%).
The growing appetite for greater flexibility in watching TV chimes with our experiences over the last year. During 2011, as smartphones and tablets became ever more sophisticated, and the quality of the TV experience they can deliver became ever more impressive, we saw an increasing demand from our customers to both watch TV on the move as well as enjoy experiences on companion devices that enhanced their enjoyment of our content.
It’s a desire that we recognised early, which is why we already offer our customers more than a dozen high quality apps across iOS, Android and other phones, including the award-winning Sky Go, Sky News for iPad and the recently launched Sky Movies app. According to comScore data for October of last year, three of our apps appeared in the top 20 UK apps by cellular data usage in the UK, including Sky Sports Football Score Centre, which appeared at no. 8 – no mean feat given the first six mobile apps are all pre-installed on various smartphones, which naturally provides an advantage in the user numbers they can achieve.
And it’s also why today we’re launching yet another new app for our customers: Sky Sports News for iPad, demoed above by our very own Jim White, including live and on-demand video, rich interactive graphics and up-to-the-minute data. Following in the footsteps of the ground-breaking Sky News for iPad earlier this year, it delivers the ultimate sports news service on the move free of charge to Sky Sports customers and customers who take our Entertainment Extra package of channels (which includes Sky Sports News). The app even includes a feature where users can personalise their homepage so they can follow the latest news from up to four clubs of their choice, and is available on a standalone basis through a monthly ticket priced at £4.99/month.
Obviously, whether consumers really will buy mobile tablets at this rate during 2012 waits to be seen. What’s for certain though is that Sky customers really value new and diverse experiences on smartphones and tablets that enable them to enjoy content on the move – and as long as this demand continues, we’ll continue to do all we can to meet it.
Click here to download the Sky Sports News for iPad app from iTunes.