The Next Stage of Smart Mobile Adoption

We’re in a state of mobile transition.

Pouring over some of the various pieces of mobile research recently, of which there is a lot these days, it stuck me that mobile is moving into its next phase, which we plead not to be called Mobile 2.0.

Smartphone penetration in the U.S. has finally reached 50 percent, though higher in the 25-34-year-old demographic, says Nielsen, and comScore pegs Android at half of that entire share.

Latin America is on its way to more than 50 percent smartphones in a few years and in the last quarter, 24 million smartphones were shipped in China, more than in the U.S. for the first time. More smartphones than full-featured phones are now sold in the U.S.

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Some Really Young Smartphone Users

Sitting in a Starbucks recently, we watched as a couple handed their iPhone to a toddler sitting in a stroller with them next to their table. They then continued their conversation with each other as the young child intently played with the phone.

The scene reminded me of a recent study of mothers and their use of technology.

The survey of 1,000 moms found that a quarter of them let their children interact with a mobile phone by time they’re two years old.

The study, conducted by The Parenting Group and BlogHer, Inc., found that by the age of four, 60 percent of children have used a computer, 32 percent have used a smartphone and 25 percent have used an iPod.

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Real Life Retail Story! 30 Percent Off in 30 Seconds!

We recently dropped in to a Foot Locker at a mall to pick up some sox.

We selected the package and I pulled out my smartphone, opened one my barcode reader apps (in this case, ShopSavvy) and scanned the barcode. Sure enough, the same sox were available at Nordstrom at a lower price. Ten seconds.

We showed the sales clerk the lower price on the phone screen and asked her if they price-matched other stores. She didn’t know and needed to ask the manager. Five seconds.

The manager looked at the Nordstrom price on the phone and the price on his packaging and after a brief discussion said they’d match the price. Fifteen seconds.

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Money to Move Through Mobile

A recent study forecasting enormous growth in mobile payments for digital and physical goods comes as no great surprise.

Money transfers via mobile devices are expected to hit $240 billion this year growing to $670 billion within four years, according to research from London-based Juniper Research.

Some of the drivers for the coming increase in mobile transactions are various forms of enabling technologies. One method is known as NFC (Near Field Communications) that allow payments essentially by swiping a phone near a device. About 20 countries are expected to launch NFC services with transactions worth $50 billion within the next two years, according to the Juniper study.

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Social Goes Mobile

Mobile is becoming a dominant vehicle for social networking.

More than 250 million people already access Facebook from their mobile phones and the company points out that the mobile users are twice as active as non-mobile users.

One of the facilitators of the move to more mobile activity is the increase in the number of smartphone owners, now estimated by Nielsen to be 37 percent of US mobile phone owners on the way to half by the end of the year.

And the increase in social interaction via mobile is substantial.

In 2010, 28 percent of social media users used a mobile phone to interact with social media, and that number increased to 40 percent this year, based on new research. That’s an increase from 54 million people last year to 80 million this year.

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The Power of the Brand? Ask Their Customers!

Looking to travel from the east to the west coast recently, I decided to take a look outside my normal coast-to-coast airlines United and American Airlines.

Jet Blue, with great seats and video selections, wasn’t flying around the times I needed but noticed that Virgin America was.

Having taken Virgin Atlantic for some Boston-London flights in the past, I pondered whether Virgin America was the same, or as good as (or worse than) Virgin Atlantic.

So I turned to Twitter to ask the gang if they had any thoughts. This was my Tweet:

“Thinking of taking Virgin America Boston-San Fran, any thoughts? (Have flown Virgin Atlantic, but not America)”

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Location-Based Marketing Takes a Step Forward

Location based marketing is finally going more mainstream.

With the AT&T and Placecast announced deal to provide special offers called ShopAlerts to consumers through their mobile phones when they’re near a participating store or brand, mobile marketing takes another step forward.

With initial presenting sponsors include HP, Kmart, JetBlue, SC Johnson, Kibbles ‘n Bits and Nature’s Recipe, the AT&T-Placecast venture will provide a large-scale, location-based marketing program.

This is a great step forward for the mobile industry overall, as more on-the-go consumers will be able to see first-hand some of the relevant value that can be provided based on location.

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The Power of the Mobile Barcode Scan

Walking through Sears today I happened to come across a couple looking at a Kitchen Aid mixer, with the price of $199 prominently posted. The man pulled out his smartphone, read the barcode and told his partner “it’s cheaper at Best Buy. Let’s go.” And they left Sears, presumably headed to Best Buy. Out of curiosity, I loaded one of my trusty barcode reader apps (in this case, @ShopSavvy) and checked the price. Sure enough, it was available at Best Buy for $179, a $20 saving, or 10 percent.

Now that may not seem like such a big deal, with a brand the size of Sears, which has about 2,500 stores in the United States and Canada. But if you consider the magnitude of the power of people armed with smartphones and barcode readers, the impact can be profound.

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Your Customers Are Going Mobile

We’re in the midst of yet another technological revolution slated to be bigger than that of the TV or PC and marketers will be faced with how to most effectively deal with it.

The new market is Mobile and it is about to change everything.

No longer will the customer be found tethered to a TV or PC screen, perfectly positioned to receive a marketer’s message on the marketer’s terms. The Mobile consumer is on the move, on location, and the marketer will have to find where their customers aggregate in this new digital landscape and how to interact with them by adding value.

It’s not the lean back of TV or the lean forward of the PC, but rather the lean very forward of Mobile. It’s up close and it’s personal. Mobile customers are doing a lot more than talking on their phones, based on the latest Pew Research Center study Mobile Access 2010:

  • The majority (54%) have sent a photo or video
  • More than a fifth (23%) have accessed a social networking site
  • A fifth have watched a video
  • Eleven percent have purchased a product
  • Eleven percent have made a charitable donation

These Mobile activity indicators are barely the tip of the iceberg of what Mobile is doing to the marketing landscape. More than 13 million people accessed bank accounts through Mobile sites in one month and more than five million people are using banking apps, according to comScore. And that’s just one industry.

The size and scope of Mobile cannot be underestimated. By 2013, there will be roughly five billion mobile subscribers worldwide, according to noted research firm IDC. And global enterprises will be impacted in even more profound ways.

For example, nine out of 10 Mobile users in China text on their phones, based on research conducted by Sybase 365. In the U.S. market, they found only 13 percent use Mobile commerce and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions. While that’s slightly higher than Canada, nearly half of those in China already use such systems.

In Japan, consumers are accustomed to swiping cell phones rather than credit cards for payment and in South Korea free Mobile TV has been around for five years and broadcasters there say almost 30 million people watch TV regularly from their phones.

Many of the large brands already have been experimenting with Mobile while many are taking a wait and see approach. In a Mobile marketing study we conducted at the Center for Media Research at MediaPost Communications, 41 percent of those not yet doing Mobile campaigns do not plan to in the foreseeable future. Another study by Acquity Group showed that only 12 percent of the top 500 retailers had sites optimized for Mobile phones.
The time for marketers to get into Mobile is now. It is the wave so you can be on it or under it.

  • What is the overall Mobile strategy of the business?
  • Where do your Mobil customers aggregate and what Mobile platforms do they use?
  • What role does your CIO or IT department play in this? Are they onboard?
  • Can your point of sale system or rewards program be integrated and maximized for your Mobile customers?
  • How do you plan to deal with your customers on location?

And those are only some of the questions that need to be addressed.
Mobile marketing is not about providing coupons and discounts, it’s about determining how you will interact with your customers when and where they want and defining the future of your brand in the Mobile environment.

Chuck Martin

Chuck Martin is a New York Times business bestselling author and was the founding Publisher of Interactive Age, the first publication to launch in print and on the Web simultaneously. He is Director of the Center for Media Research, MediaPost, in New York and former Vice President of IBM’s publishing and advertising division. He is the Co-Publisher and Editor in Chief of Social Media Marketing Magazine. He is currently writing a soon-to-be published book on Mobile.