This year, 2010, is apparently the year of the mobile. Any organization dealing with digital media is talking about it, Wall Street analysts are lionizing the potential, and a growing number of major brands are implementing their mobile strategy. Any international marketer worth their salt is plotting a course to get access to the pockets of the 4 billion mobile subscribers worldwide. Many organizations are now starting to meet the associated technology challenges head-on, and this paper points the way for innovative brands to begin implementing high-impact mobile initiatives immediately.
However, executing a mobile strategy today is an evolving process, and there are significant hurdles to overcome in constructing effective, broad-based, mobile initiatives. It is not just about delivering a new piece of technology (which is getting easier). Still, it is also about the application of that technology to the market you are addressing.
How to get your customers embracing your mobile channel. Obviously, the need to create a compelling user experience is key to the success of your campaign. We have learned through painful experience that in reality, your customers will try your mobile channel only once before deciding whether or not to give it ‘general airplay.’
Why is ‘going mobile so hard? In short, the mobile medium has many different players, from carriers to handset manufacturers to platforms to content publishers, and many others. There are few standards for moving content across carriers to different mobile devices, and it is still a little daunting for the uninitiated to navigate.
Despite the noise and the ‘explosive’ growth of this market, only a handful of suppliers understand how to produce and publish rich, compelling, relevant, and engaging content across the multiplicity of mobile device types now available. The first obstacle to overcome exists in the form factor of mobile devices. The Internet has shaped consumer expectations of the interactive media experience.
The Internet experience does not map directly to the small screen size and is limited by the bandwidth of the mobile environment. Mobile initiatives must be conceived and designed specifically to support a compelling mobile experience. Our experience to date has been that this is uncharted territory for most mobile brand strategies and has been characterized more by trials than by national and international rollouts.
The next challenge is that the mobile world is highly fragmented, unlike the open, standards-driven Internet. More than 30 major handset manufacturers currently produce over 500 different phones, with significant variations in operating systems, screen sizes, display resolution, processing speed, memory, and performance. These differences mean that mobile content and applications must be adapted to run on multiple, dissimilar devices, greatly complicating the development effort.
Further variations in service delivery among more than 600 carriers add still more development complications and cost. For these reasons, many mobile campaigns today are limited either to one carrier and a handful of devices, which compromises reach, or to the most basic content technologies, which compromises effectiveness. Perhaps the most important question that needs answering is:
Do you believe the hype, and if so, is the timing right for me to ‘go mobile’ now?” If the answer to both is ‘yes,’ the next question is, “How will I gain competitive advantages compared to those of pioneering web initiatives a decade ago? Given that the mobile market is in a constant state of flux and the noise level is constantly increasing – what are the possibilities for an innovative brand? There are five distinct tried and trusted methods for extending mobile initiatives to new audiences, which are described in the chronological order of their entrance to the general market.
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