While the pursuit of new technology is an endless task, some products, trends, and even businesses in the industry do vanish overnight. The reasons for this can range from a failure to adopt modern ways of doing things, like what happened with Blackberry, to more nebulous things such as internal politics, the nemesis of Nokia.
Some things just seem to stick around and grow, however.
Mobile entertainment, encompassing just about anything you do on your phone that makes you happy, is one of these eternal trends within technology. A study by Zion Market Research revealed that the market for mobile entertainment around the world could increase by 91.6% in the seven years between 2021 and 2028, climbing from US$104.9bn to US$201bn. This might seem unfathomable to people who have owned a phone since the turn of the millennium.
In the United States, 85% of people own a smartphone (total cellphone ownership stands at 97%), according to Pew Research. The UK has a much higher smartphone adoption rate, at 94% of the population. In either case, there aren’t many people left who do not own a cellphone of some description, a point that should suggest a slowing of the mobile entertainment market.
Of course, as we’ve just discovered, this isn’t true. Why? Firstly, there are plenty of growth sectors feeding into mobile entertainment. This includes streaming services, music, gaming, and more general Android and iOS apps. Fortune Business Insights predicts that TV platforms like Paramount+ and Amazon Video will share a global financial footprint of US$1.7bn by the end of the decade.
One single mobile game – Fortnite – earned US$5.8bn in 2021, marking developer Epic out as a bit of a monolith on smartphones. Mobile gaming makes up more than half of the total market share of mobile entertainment, again, according to Zion, closely followed by music. It should come as no surprise that even franchises native to other systems, like Diablo, Rocket League, and Apex Legends all now have mobile counterparts.
The rapid shift of casino gaming to mobile phones over the past few years is driving growth in entertainment, too. The industry is tipped to record a compound annual growth rate of 11.49% during the period between 2022 and 2027. While it might sound unlikely, the closure of physical premises has not had an impact on casinos’ fortunes, as the demand for remote play continues to increase.
Of course, different players value different features in online casinos. These include security, availability, customer support, and banking options. The shift towards a predominantly online model has improved the quality of many of these aspects without diminishing the sense of immersion that comes from visiting brick-and-mortar premises.
In addition, a tendency for the top mobile casinos to adopt new technologies has brought the industry more in line with mainstream entertainment in recent years. Concepts such as streamed content have enabled the creation of live casino, for instance, which uses a real-life location and dealer to stage each game, but is otherwise an entirely remote experience. They’re streamed to audiences via webcam, in other words.
The true growth driver in mobile entertainment has little to do with content but with the rapid adoption of mobile technology in emerging economies. Non-Western markets continue to provide an enormous platform for digital media. In Bangladesh, for instance, just 32.4% of the population has a smartphone yet that figure equates to almost the same number of total devices as the UK (53.3m to 53.58m).
Those figures, from Newzoo, also reveal that stereotypically Western or Westernized countries like Germany, South Korea, Japan, and the UK only provide 606m smartphones to the rest of the world’s 2.1bn. The latter grouping includes China, Iran, Indonesia, and India. This means that there’s an incentive for content providers to set up in countries that might have previously been skipped due to low smartphone penetration.
Where does it all go from here, though? There’s some evidence that the TV streaming industry has bottlenecked itself with the exclusivity of its content. After all, the need to have ten different platforms to watch ten different shows is exactly why cable TV packages have always been viewed as a necessary evil rather than something truly desirable. Netflix is already showing the beginnings of a decline.
Overall, though, the potential of mobile entertainment already seems limitless but, as smartphones become more affordable around the world, it’s not unreasonable to expect the growth of the industry to accelerate once again towards 2040 and 2050.