Martin Sorrell “apps still only touching the tip of the iceberg”

Businesses need to embrace mobile to succeed as the use of applications continues to boom, according to Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP.

In a speech at Mobile World Congress 2011 Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of advertising giant WPP, noted that the average Apple user has 60 applications across devices such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod, and that the App Store is poised to overtake iTunes in the coming months in terms of downloads per month.

While over 81% of applications that are downloaded are free, but there is still revenue to be made, Sorrell explained.

“In terms of revenue generated from apps, we are still only touching the tip of the iceberg. The opportunity for growth is huge as smartphones get into the hands of the masses,” he said.

According to Sorrell, the growth of mobile apps reflects changing media consumption habits among consumers. “Apps are a classic example of the shift from broadcast to multi-faceted engagement. They enable brands to connect to consumers at numerous touch points, whether in the home, when they are on their way to the shops, when they are in the shops, when they are standing at the shelves, and when they are standing at the tills.”

He noted that the ability of mobile apps to provide advertisers and publishers with a method to deliver targetted content, using personal data and location information to improve accuracy, “is the holy grail that we as advisors on behalf of our clients are looking for.”

Sorrell also noted the evolving nature of the mobile app industry. “As mobile browsers become more powerful, it will be increasingly possible for [enhanced] features to be integrated in all mobile sites…that’s not to say that apps are an evolutionary dead end. There will always be features that they will offer that mobile sites will not.” “It is likely that mobile apps will be the fat part of the curve in terms of usage, whereas the mobile internet will be the long tail,” he said.