A year from now, we're going to look back on what happened this year and declare that it was finally the "year of mobile."
These three areas will continue to progress and if competition keeps prices in check, innovation will continue and we'll be more connected than ever by the end of the year. We've seen interesting concepts in all three of these areas before, but today's overall system has reached a point of maturity making the mobile experience useful, usable, and desirable.
And as consumers get more out of mobile platforms, advertising will follow suit and finally take off. Ads will now become part of the Apple and Google ecosystems, not standalone networks with limited reach.
Other things we'll see:
Think back to surfing the web on a Treo 650 using Blazer via GPRS or a RAZR using WAP over EDGE...we can look back and laugh about this now. It's likely we'll be feeling the same about Safari on an iPhone 3GS/3G sooner than you think.
Confused about mobile marketing? Don't be. If you're an interactive marketer, you probably already know more about the channel than you think.
Forrester clients can learn more in a piece of research we published yesterday. Here's the executive summary:
Eighty-three percent of marketers believe that mobile marketing will grow in effectiveness over the next three years. But although US marketers see the channel's growth potential, a technical acronym soup and low levels of current adoption among many mobile marketing formats await early entrants. So to test the new medium while managing these early risks, US marketers should apply lessons learned from other digital channels to launch effective mobile campaigns. Also key to success: targeting the small but influential base of consumers who have already experienced mobile ads.
P.S. If you have a moment, I'd welcome your feedback via the Forrester Blog Feedback Survey.
As you may know, my research coverage at Forrester has shifted into mobile marketing. Last night, I moderated a panel discussion last night for MITX and we talked about the industry for a couple hours with The Weather Channel, ESPN, Carat, g8wave, and Ringleader Digital. The three biggest points that came up in discussion:
Good crowd and good panel. Lots of iPhone fans. Lots of Blackberry users. And lots of great services, products, and ideas out there - but I think some of the technical complexity and immaturity of the current business opportunity keep mainstream media attention away from the space.
I'll be thinking more about this in the future - next month I'll publish a document outlining how interactive marketers can take what they already know and apply to mobile.
I spent the day in New York at the OMMA Mobile conference. As I've blogged before, I've started covering mobile marketing and advertising as part of my day job. But 2008 isn't going to be the year that mobile makes it big - and the longer recession looms over us, the longer mobile's emergence will be delayed.
However, I'm just starting my research so I'm building up to identify how to make mobile marketing work now and in the future. Today, there were some very smart minds sharing their thoughts - I'll share their reasons why mobile isn't prime time yet. My biggest takeaway: mobile marketing has lots of potential, but is currently trapped in an immature adolescence, at best. Sure, we've started to notice mobile - deeper voice, more curves, whatever - but this thing ain't ready to drive a car, vote, or drink a beer yet.
If you want to know why, here's what I heard today:
From Evan Neufeld of m:metrics: "what is driving us forward and holding us back"
From Jeremy Wright of Nokia, formerly of Enpocket. "Why isn't mobile advertising bigger today?"
From David Verklin, CEO of Aegis Media Americas. "The biggest barrier to mobile advertising."
Verklin actually came out and said it: 2008 isn't the year of mobile. 2009 is.
What that means is you should be preparing yourself now for mobile, just like you did with social media - by experimenting. Upgrade your mobile plan to include data. Text in a vote to American Idol (in a few weeks) or submit a code to My Coke Rewards. Visit ESPN mobile and notice the banner ads.
(Naturally, the flip side of this is how to mobile marketing work, which will be covered in an upcoming piece of research.)
As I've mentioned before, my research coverage has shifted to include mobile marketing. I spent the past week with Nokia in Espoo and picked up some interesting insights from our interactions.
You may know that Nokia's origins come from the wood pulp, rubber, and cable industries. You may not know that just a decade ago, mobile was only 5% of the company's business mix. Today they've become the world's largest volume handset manufacturer, with over 112,000 employees. Reminds me of IBM's shift to services - fascinating case in refocusing a business.
In 2007, there were over 3 billion people on mobile networks - over half the world's population. Nokia projects this number will increase to 5 billion in 2015, but with a 100-fold increase in network traffic. That's a quite different world than today and not that far away. Mobile marketing may not be prime time today, but it will be.
Last year, Nokia launched a special Arabian-African edition phone. It was made in special colors with seven preloaded Ramadan-related applications, e.g. Qibla direction indicator and Hijri calendar. Reminds me of the limited edition SMUs from Nike and adidas - this is a tactic that could be applied to many brands in many markets.
Speaking of devices, Nokia has the ability to put 7 megapixel cameras in their phones, but hasn't. Why? Customer experience - a 7MP camera would create greater latency in the imaging chain. So they've gone with a max 5 MP to optimize the experience. I think it works pretty well; last year, I borrowed a N73 with 3.2 MP camera that was pretty good, much better than my 1.3 MP Blackberry. I'm currently borrowing a N95 8GB which has 5 MP and built-in GPS for geotagging - which delivers images like the one at the top of this post. Not bad.
I heard about a service called Twango for the first time. It combines a lot of different features from the sites you use today - social networking, picture sharing, file sharing, messaging. Twango's ability to let you set varying permission levels for group and individual access are far more granular than most sites today.
Thinking through Nokia's focus on consumer internet services - they've got gaming, lifeblogging, social networks, maps, and music - they seem to be the only device manufacturer with such a broad focus. Microsoft, Apple and Google play here as well, but none have the same global device presence. Others like Motorola, LG, and Samsung aren't getting into services as far as I can tell.
Do you remember the story of Crown, Cork and Seal? At one point in its evolution, the company mapped out the market in a 2x2 and saw a big empty space in the upper right. But the lesson learned was that sometimes a white space doesn't mean market opportunity - it may mean that the canary has stopped singing.
What are your thoughts on manufacturer as service provider? Is Nokia ahead of the game, just difficult to see from a U.S.-biased lens? Or is this direction doomed?