SEMA News—July 2012


Mobile Internet: A Whole New World

  Chris Kersting-SEMA President and CEO, Automotive Aftermarket Research, Automotive Accessories Research 
If you’ve been paying attention, you can’t help but be aware of the surge in sales of smartphones and hand-held tablets, such as the iPad. This is a tough trend to miss, because the statistics are overwhelming. It’s estimated that currently there are 4 billion mobile devices in use, and a quarter of those are smartphones.

Analysts predict that the growth rate for mobile Internet users will continue to be very steep. One stat we saw recently noted that by 2014, more people will be accessing the Internet via phone than via desktop computer. Hand-held devices are often cheaper than desktop computers, and they are spreading globally.

As this trend continues, more and more consumers will be equipped to gather information of all sorts, anytime, anywhere. Regarding the automotive world, exciting content about cool cars and trucks will be delivered globally via video games, traditional media providers and social media. By all accounts, this is happening all over the world, and it’s happening faster than expected.

We don’t yet know how many gear-head consumers are gathering information, being influenced or making purchase decisions via mobile device. But we do know that the potential is there and growing, and smart businesses of every type should be getting in position to compete.

It is also likely that the handheld device trend is going to be an increasing factor in global marketing opportunities for specialty parts. More than ever, your products have the potential to be in front of a worldwide audience.

Simultaneously, worldwide interest in specialty performance products is also growing rapidly. We see this international interest demonstrated by the steady increase of buyers, exhibitors and media coming to the SEMA Show from around the globe. On top of that, companies reporting back from our marketing events in places such as Dubai and Beijing have spoken of successful sales and strong buyer interest.

How easy is it to find our industry products on a cell phone in the United States, Mexico, Brazil or China today, and how easy will it be in three years? I can’t say we know that.

But it seems clear that it will become easier and more likely. If you are still looking for reasons to get your company’s product information into a digital format, the spread of smart handheld devices is yet another good reason—and in this regard, SEMA stands ready to assist you.

The newly established SEMA Data Co-op (SDC) provides a standardized way of organizing and getting your digital product information into play. (Starting this month, this publication will be providing regular updates about the SDC. You’ll see our first Data Co-op Update column on p. 86 of this issue.)

We’re convinced that the handheld boom will deliver a big push for our industry’s products in markets here and abroad. Time will tell, but it’s possible we’ll look back on 2012 as a turning point in the way specialty parts are marketed.

—Chris Kersting, SEMA President and CEO

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