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The mobile internet will be worth more than Apple in the next few years, skyrocketing from $300 billion last year to $850 billion by 2018.

This explosive growth is being driven largely by m-commerce, and the numbers prove it. Over half of the $41 billion invested in mobile over the last year was poured into m-commerce.

M-Commerce On the Rise

Last year, m-commerce generated over $200 billion in sales. Despite the fact that Americans spend more per person on mobile than Asians, Asia’s larger population and growing middle class of mobile consumers pushed Asia past America in terms of total m-commerce sales.

Alibaba and other retailers, such as Flipkart, clearly demonstrate that m-commerce is expanding beyond Amazon. The sheer size of Alibaba, which is larger than Amazon and eBay combined, also show that America will no longer be the center of growth for the mobile internet and m-commerce.

In the first quarter of 2015, 51% of Alibaba’s GMV was mobile, compared to 42% in December of 2014. This represented an increase of 157% versus the prior year. The site’s mobile MAUs grew substantially in that same time frame, from 163 million in March 2014 to 289 million in March 2015.

However, other m-commerce investments point to more industry growth – and even competition for the likes of Alibaba. China-based Wanda E-Commerce, for instance, raised $161 million after its founding last August. This round of funding increased the company’s valuation to $3 billion.

Although Alibaba is China’s largest m-commerce provider, Tencent- and Baidu-backed Wanda E-Commerce says that it already has the world’s largest offline consumer network of 1.5 million, a number “that it expects to reach six billion by 2020.”

By 2018, Digi-Capital predicts that Asia will consume nearly half of the m-commerce market, versus North America, which will own just over a quarter of the pie.

Mobile Advertising to Earn Even More

Mobile advertising, in terms of revenue, has historically taken a backseat to in-app purchases and paid downloads. That’s all changing, however, as companies like Facebook drive mobile ads up the charts.

In Q4 of 2014, for the 10th quarter in a row, Facebook beat earnings estimates, thanks largely to its mobile advertising revenue. In the first quarter of 2015, Facebook’s mobile ad revenue hit $3.32 billion, which now accounts for 73% of the company’s revenue. App install ads are considered to be a big money maker, as app developers continue to seek new app discovery channels.

In terms of mobile ad spend, Digi-Capital reports that America will still lead the pack in 2018, spending more on mobile ads than all major Asian countries combined.

Video Games Beat All Other Consumer Apps

In 2014, consumer apps generated $30 billion, but that is expected to skyrocket to over $75 billion in the next 3 years.

Games will continue to take the lion’s share of that revenue, though other app categories will grow to consume nearly half of the market by 2018.

In North America, the mobile gaming market is expected to grow 51% year over year, while emerging markets in Asia are projected to increase at 86% year over year.

This disparity in growth is partially due to the fact that North American consumers already have access to multiple screens. In emerging markets, however, smartphones are often consumers’ first – and sometimes only – connected device.

Unlike consoles, mobile devices are must-have devices in such a connected world, while consoles are not. The proliferation of smartphones in emerging markets, therefore, will only help to spur the growth of the mobile gaming industry.

 M-Commerce Trending Towards Visual Commerce

Every year, new categories of mobile-enabled services are emerging. Some predict that one of the major defining trends in m-commerce will be visual commerce – the focus on image- and video-based commerce applications.

A cursory analysis of industry trends reveals that many of the major social networks are trending towards visual m-commerce applications. Facebook and Twitter, for instance, have both made moves that suggest a move into the m-commerce space.

Facebook is incorporating a number of features that make its plans clear:

  • A “Facebook wallet” of sorts will allow users to send money to one another – and also to merchants
  • The company has been testing ways for users to make purchases directly from ads
  • Facebook’s acquisition of The Find moves it one step closer to the retail space

Twitter, meanwhile, acquired CardSpring, a payment infrastructure company. And, previously, it had partnered with Amazon to allow users to shop directly from their Twitter feed.

Both companies are taking a cautious approach, but their clear focus on e-commerce and visual media points towards a future where visual m-commerce is the norm.

 

The aforementioned mobile trends in emerging markets will only enhance the growth of m-commerce, even in innovative m-commerce areas, such as virtual reality. Google Cardboard is an invention that offers cheap, easy VR access to anyone with a smartphone.

So it is certainly feasible that the emerging mobile middle class, in countries such as China or Southeast Asian countries, will be fueling the growth of a visual m-commerce world in the years to come.