November 2007 - Mobivity

Mobile Penetration Worldwide Hits 50%… TODAY!

Posted by | General, Mobile Analytics, Technology | No Comments

How they know this number exactly I don’t know, but according to industry analyst Informa Telecoms & Media, worldwide mobile penetration will hit 50% (3.3 billion subscribers) today.

Not tomorrow. Not yesterday. Today.

Amazing that they know this. Funny thing is I was just telling my partner Gary, that the Mayan’s predicted the end of the world on December 21st, 2012. I’m not sure how they know this one either.

Whether they are right or wrong is not really what’s important (Informa Telecoms… not the Mayans).  What’s important to note is what an gigantous number that is. 3.3 billion mobile subscribers.


“The mobile industry has constantly outperformed even the most optimistic forecasts for subscriber growth,” said Mark Newman, chief research officer at Informa Telecoms & Media. “For children growing up today the issue is not whether they will get a mobile phone, it’s a question of when.

“It is difficult to imagine how a modern economy could function without mobile telephony and a number of recent studies have shown that the mobile phone is having a hugely positive impact on the economies of emerging markets.”

The first cellular network was launched 26 years ago. I still remember my first Radio Shack mobile phone that I used during the 1989 New York City Phone Company Strike. I think I paid $1.50 per minute, and it looked like a World War One  field phone.

Informa estimates that mobile networks cover 90% of the global population, and that there are networks in 224 countries.

As of the end of September, 59 countries have mobile penetration of over 100%, with 27 countries having less than 10%.

These are staggering numbers. The reach of the mobile phone continues to grow at an amazing rate.


Yahoo says Mobile Web to Overtake Wired Internet in 10 Years

Posted by | General, Mobile Web, News | No Comments

- via a Total Telecom article

In the next decade more people will log on to the Internet using a mobile device than on their computers, Yahoo predicted on Thursday.

At a presentation in London last week, Geraldine Wilson, VP of Connected Life at Yahoo Europe predicted that within 10 years more people will access the Internet from their mobile than from a PC.

“In emerging markets most people’s first contact with the Internet will be with a mobile phone,” she added.

Yesterday I commented on the New York Times article on how slowly the mobile web is moving.

I said:

There is no question that the iPhone browser, and the inevitable ones that will follow, will give more life to the mobile web. The carriers putting together unlimited data plans, and the availability of quality content will also give the mobile web a push over the next few years.

It would seem the the folks at Yahoo agree.

Speaking at a presentation in London Thursday, Wilson conceded that the cost of using mobile data services needs to come down, that handsets need better interfaces, and network speeds need to improve to really drive uptake, but insisted that these three key issues are already being addressed.

She also addressed the semi-failure of early WAP, and the promise of the mobile web.

“We have to be careful because there have been many false dawns of Internet on the mobile…but I think we will look back at 2007 as when things started to happen,” she said.

Clearly Yahoo and Google believe that the mobile Internet will grow tremendously. So much so that it appears that they are playing a large part in making it that way. Like the days of the early Internet, the mobile web and connected mobile applications will create an awesome new opportunity for advertisers to reach consumers with targeted messages.

What makes mobile so much more powerful is the personalized nature of the mobile phone.  The relationship between the consumer and the phone, is much more personal than with a computer. In the Total Telecom article, They quote an Ovum Analyst who makes a really intreresting point.

“At the moment more people are using the Internet on their PC, and for longer… which is more attractive to advertisers,” he said. But as mobile Internet uptake increases so will its value to advertisers.

Furthermore, Delaney pointed out that fixed broadband is delivered on a per-household basis, whereas mobile broadband potentially provides a direct link between the consumer and the advertiser, enabling the latter to target consumers more effectively.

Targeting the handset is much more powerful than targeting a household when reaching the consumer. While the carriers will always be protective of their customers’ information, we still have a direct one-to-one connection from the marketer to the consumer when using the mobile Phoneto deliver the message.

While I can’t even imagine what the “mobile Internet” will be in 10 years, I can certainly see a world where every handset can access shared applications and content instantly and easily over a shared network. And where there are eyeballs, there will always be advertising, regardless of the level of the technology.


Mobile Advertising Predicted to Hit $19 Billion by 2011

Posted by | General, Mobile Advertising, News | No Comments

According to a post I just read on TMCnet, ABI Research has predicted that the global market for mobile marketing and advertising will reach $3 billion by the end of 2007, and will expand to reach $19 billion in 2011.

A whitepaper by Multimedia Intelligence, sponsored by iHollywood forum, notes advertising’s shift into the mobile marketplace can be attributed to the emergence of mobile media and mobile Internet.

“The traditional media industry is under assault from rapidly changing technology and user behavior. The digital video recorder has empowered consumers and is toppling traditional TV advertising models. The result is advertisers putting their cross-hairs on the world’s 3 billion cellular subscribers. New cellular based advertising techniques will not only deliver display ads but also integrate community, participation and interactivity into the media experience.” Rick Sizemore, Chief Strategy Officer for MultiMedia Intelligence commented.

There is no question that the world’s 3 billion mobile handsets have the potential to be the most effective avenue for delivery of marketing and advertising messages ever. The reach, personal relationship, and targeting potential put mobile in a class by itself.

Unlike the traditional Internet, mobile marketing and advertising will be used more for driving consumers to products and services, rather than for direct sales of electronic downloads and subscriptions. I Imagine that the budgets spent on mobile for downloadable content such as ringtones and music will be far less than what is spent for branding, and lead generation.

The TMCnet post also references a recent survey by Harris Interactive:

The survey, which reached out to 4,123 adults, aged 18-years or over, was commissioned by the Ingenio, Inc., a provider of Pay Per Call advertising. The idea behind the survey was to gather a better understanding of peoples’ attitudes towards, and usage of, their mobile phones.

In another article on TMCnet, Rick Tehrani goes into some detail and offers opinions on why this industry will grow so large, so quickly.

Some of his reasons:

  • The iPhone
  • Mobile Friendly Websites
  • SMS
  • Location Based Services
  • Social Networking

Give it a read, he has quite a few links to other related content to support his opinions.


Will We Ever See WAP Location Based Services?

Posted by | General, Mobile Advertising | No Comments

Last night I attended the monthly Mobile Monday meeting for the MOMO-NY group here in New York City. A panel was put together and the planned topic of conversation was to be focused on Smartphones, and whether all phones should be considered smart phones.

While I enjoyed the conversation, we quickly got off topic and it became more of a question and answer session for the two panelists, Samsung’s Pete Skarzynski, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Mobile Complete’s Mudassir Sheikha, VP Solutions.

Before the panel began, I got into a short conversion with someone from Slifter, a location based mobile phone product finder service. Unfortunately I didn’t take her card and don’t remember her name. A few times during the conversation I completely disagreed with her point of view. But being late in the evening after a long day of using my brain,  I didn’t want to get into it. Some of the issues also came up in questions to the panel, and I want to comment on them in general.

When building a service for the mobile consumer, you have a number of decisions that you must make early on in the process. When building a location based service, you have even more issues that you must deal with.

When I entered the conversation, she was talking to my partner Gary about how Slifter was a Java app, and she used some technical terms that made him visibly take a step back. I immediately jumped in so he could recover.

She portrayed the application as a “location based” product finder service. I commented on the small market size of GPS supported phones, and how it must be tough to be promoting a product that can only be used on a small number of handsets.

With that comment, I got a laugh and the response “Oh, no, no… We deal with the carriers, not the consumers.” Since I have limited knowledge of the politics of infiltrating the actual carriers, I replied with an “Oh that must have been a difficult process.” At that point I had been imaging that they had made deals with the individual carriers, and that the carriers were providing location based data to them over some API. I had always heard that this is not something that is really possible. But hey, good for them. She said once a single carrier came one, the others were eager to go along (I’m not sure what others there are besides Sprint and Helio).

She showed us the mobile web version of the service, which I plan to do a Mobile Experience Post on later today. The idea behind the app is that you can find products in your local area, and get prices and directions to the retail location. I’ll leave my comments on the business idea for later, but what I found interesting was how she was using “location based service” as the driving factor behind the promotion of the app.

So the desicisions that I would have to make when when building this service would be two-fold.

  • Should it be developed as a WAP site, or an installed app?
  • Is it a GPS based LBS service, or can we get location data from the carriers?

I don’t know much about LBS, but one thing I do know is that I can’t simply send a message to the carrier and get even a general location of a phone. To me, putting the GPS in the phone is not the answer, unless that info can be queried from outside the phone.

When I mentioned that I though a WAP based site would be better since consumers don’t like to install apps, the response I got was how sending location based data over the web creates a privacy issue, and that it’s no big deal to use an installed app. I don’t get that, and I don’t agree with that.

Consumers don’t want to download and install apps on thei phones. As the browsers become more robust, and the wireless pipe gets bigger, the mobile web is where it will be at. Building an application that only works on phones with GPS chips, and only works on some carriers and models is not the answer. If you want to build an app that can be used by EVERYONE, then it should be mobile web based. 

As far as LBS, we’re not talking about locating a phone and sending the coordinates to someone to locate you. We’re talking about the user of the phone querying our service and receiving a list of stores nearby. For an application like this, we don’t need to know the actual location of the phone. Why can’t the carriers abstract it out and give us a 1 mile radius or something? What are they waiting for? Why not just give us some information in the HTTP header of the request?

If the consumer opts in to allow a particular service to query their location, why not provide the information? What’s in the best interest of the consumer, is what the consumer wants, not what the carrier thinks they want. Also, why do we need to build GPS chips into the phones when the E911 regulations already tell us with some accuracy where the phone is?

During the Mobile Monday Q&A session, there were some questions posed at the Samsung rep about GPS and location based services. The impression I got from him was that by putting a GPS in the phone, they believe you have the opportunity to bypass the carriers, and install location based applications. But is this really the answer?

For years we have been hearing about location based apps. There are a million great ideas that can be implemented. But until that information is available, I personally would not build a business that relies on it.

We are currently working on an application that would have added value by knowing where the phone is. While discussing it with the team I made what we have to do simple and clear. Put columns in the database for lattitude and longitude, and when we can fill them in, we will!

Meanwhile by the end of the Slifter conversation, it was clear that this is a zip code based mobile web application, and that the “Carriers” that are providing LBS info possibly consist of only Sprint. Nothing on their site talks about LBS services, and when you send it to your phone, it’s simply a link to the WAP site. I’m sure they are workng hard behind the scenes with the carriers.

In the meantime, they appear to be talking the right steps to getting this service up and out there. Starting with a zip code based mobile web site is exactly how I would have done it. Build your J2ME app and put it on some phones and see where it leads, but don’t count on it being the bulk of your users. Work with the carries and make your deals if you can. I was also thinking that an SMS based lookup would be great as well. She breifly mentioned that they had a short code, and a look at the site shows that they do indeed allow you to query for products via SMS.

Best of luck to Slifter. They have some great content and it looks like they have built relationships with many retailers.

A review of the WAP site & service to follow.


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