Pierrick Leveque, Head of Acquisition at Virgin Games, runs the rule over the much heralded and now thriving mobile channel in the iGaming industry.

IT WAKES ME up. It connects me. It informs me. It entertains me. It fulfils a somehow inexplicable urge to catapult birds onto pigs.
If you’re like me, your life is increasingly ruled by mobile phone consumption.

It’s our media snack: we use it for tasks, urgency and to help us through countless and fleeting instants of boredom. It’s always there, always on, ever ready to serve our exponential hunger for information and entertainment for little more reward than a daily charge and a weekly polish.

To celebrate Virgin Games launching its mobile casino, let’s have a look at our pocket friend in the context of online gaming.

Why mobile? Why now?

In the early ‘noughties’, in the serene setting of a Canadian golf resort, I attended Microgaming’s unveiling of the Spin3 mobile casino product. Every year since then, I’ve heard rallying shouts about mobile being the next big thing in gaming - “Next year I tell you... this time next year, we’ll be millionaires!”

In retrospect, it couldn’t have become an industry changer until some important boxes were ticked: handset market consolidation, network speed, m-commerce maturity, to name but a few.

It’s now 20ii, and the boom is well underway. According to comScore, a leading recorder of data on mobile device usage worldwide, 42 percent of UK mobile consumers used a Smartphone in May 2011 compared to 27 percent a year ago. As recent reports show, Smartphone use has accelerated even through the recession, prompting comScore to refer to Smartphone use as an “addiction” for the first time.

On the device/OS front, new data is showing the tipping point where half of UK users will have Smartphones is only a year away, June 2012 to be precise. Google’s Android has grown its user base adding nearly 4.7 million new users over the past year - a staggering 634 percent rise year- on-year. Since April 2010, 2.5 percent of UK feature phone owners have upgraded to Smartphones every month.

Noticeably, Android’s growth is being driven by non-Smartphone owners upgrading, rather than people switching from other platforms. 74.3 percent of new Android sales come from feature phone owners and only 1.4 percent from former iPhone owners.
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