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Take a Smartphone, Please

My first-half-of-2011 mobile predictions began with the belief that the carriers and retailers would pay us to take on a smartphone with a contract.

While that apparently didn’t happen, the movement of smartphones was a big part of the mobile story from January to June.

The half-full view of smartphone adoption is that, according to the Pet Internet project, more Americans own smartphones than hold a bachelor’s degree (that either speaks to the success of smartphones or the failure of the educational system to produce more graduates).

A half-empty view is that while many analysts predicted smartphone penetration in the U.S. to be 50 percent by the end of the year, highly-regarded wireless expert Chetan Sharma says that day will come in 2012.

If you recall, during the 2010 holiday season, BlackBerry and Windows 7 Phones, among others, were routinely presented to consumers for free. Even the iPhone 3GS sold for $24.95 at Radio Shack in a trade-in promotion.

To top that, in Canada, operator Telus gave customers a free X-Box 360 with a Windows 7 Phone in exchange for a three-year commitment.

Even with the number not tipping over 50 percent this year, brand marketing managers continue to need to plan for more sophisticated consumers with higher-end phones.

Here are other predictions from January and a look at how I fared:

I failed miserably when I said that 2011 will be seen as the year that mobile marketing made a major play in the Super Bowl. As in past years, we were disappointed by the lack of mobile elements in spots during the telecast. While I’m an optimist when it comes to mobile marketing and advertising, I’ve been burned so many times that I’ll be careful with a prediction for the 2012 Super Bowl (if it is played).

I was right on when I said that we would be presented with even more stories about the mobile device becoming our wallet. Early in the year in a poll of mobile industry drivers conducted by Sharma http://chetansharma.com/MobilePredictions2011.htm , nearly 50 percent called mobile payments a breakthrough category in 2011. It’s certainly a breakthrough for media attention but massive consumer adoption is a long ways out, in my opinion.

I said that security on a smartphone would be compromised, but consumers would ignore calls to buy virus/malware protection. There have been periodic reports, primarily from security companies, about the dangers coming to our handsets. Of course, the phone hacking by British tabloid News of the World shows just what is possible. Still, do you know anyone who has bought protection? Me, neither.

I predicted that some jerk would claim his mobile phone exploded and caused injury – and that media will run with the story. That hasn’t happened this year to my knowledge, but it has happened just about every year in the last five and almost invariably it turns out to be a hoax. My bet is it happens again before the snow flies.

I said that Disney won’t be the only company closing in on 50 percent of engagements via mobile by 2012. By every measure, mobile marketing and advertising has become real in 2011. The pace of activity for my company, Hipcricket, and many others shows that, as do the hundreds of campaigns individual brands are running this year.

Finally, I predicted that given the breathtaking speed of innovation in mobile and personal technology, I will have missed forecasting major news coming in the first half of 2011. Of course, I did, including AT&T’s attempt to purchase T-Mobile USA, the advancements by Android, and Nokia and RIM sliding so fast and so far.

Next I’ll take on predictions for the second half of 2012.

iMedia Communications, Inc. is a trade publisher and event producer serving interactive media and marketing industries. The company was founded in September of 2001 and is a subsidiary of Comexposium USA.  ...

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