Mobile technology has reached adolescence, and like every teenager, needs to start thinking about its future. David Cooperstein, writing for Forbes, has decided to play guidance counselor.
“When I began my career as a telecom analyst in 1996 (after nearly a decade of consulting and marketing experience),” he writes, “my first report was on the subject of mobile data. This was a time when Motorola (News - Alert) owned the nascent mobile phone business, pagers were mostly one-way, and the only uses I could find for wireless data beyond simple messaging were telemetry (look it up) and logistics management for trucking companies.”
The technology has grown massively in 16 years. Among the statistics, Cooperstein notes that there are 6.6 million mobile subscribers worldwide and 1.6 million broadband subscribers. Smartphones also consume 80 percent of global bandwidth, despite having only 12 percent market share worldwide. Ninety-five percent of the Earth is covered by mobile, while 75 percent of the world population has a mobile phone.
Nielsen ratings have also found 73 percent of smartphone owners use their devices while shopping.
“These are awesome and scary numbers, considering that it took the color TV about 20 years to reach the adoption rates that mobile devices reached in only 12 years,” Cooperstein writes. “Why does this matter? Because as marketers, the mobile trend will make the broadband and television worlds look small and feeble in comparison.”
For Cooperstein, it’s undeniable that mobile is the future of technology, from search, to social, to everything. “What we are learning is that the consumer of tomorrow does not separate these ‘channels’ into discrete activities, but rather engages with them the way one would drive a car, listen to the radio, and talk to their passenger at the same time.”
So what can people who find themselves in charge of creating and marketing mobile technologies do?
Cooperstein says to first look at what users are actually doing with their devices. “When you see someone at the mall or at your kid’s soccer practice glued to a mobile device, note which apps are being used. Ask what apps they use the most, and why.”
Also, find apps beyond mobile mail. The mobile Web is still rather clunky, as Cooperstein found out while trying to check a flight on an airline’s mobile site. When he downloaded the airline’s free app, however, he found it much easier.
Businesspeople should think like their customers. At the end of the day, creating mobile apps are about a customer’s experience. “Your goal should be to create one of those apps that your customers can’t live without.”
It’s important to look at the data cited in his article, because mobile is more than just a fad. “This is a wave, not a ripple. Having considered and observed the market since the early days, the opportunity is not just cool, it’s critical to the future of your business.”
Edited by Tammy Wolf