Thomas Husson [Posted by Thomas Husson]

The success of Apple's iPhone has acted as a marketing catalyst and showcased the potential of the mobile platform.

Leading brands such as l'Oréal, Audi, Kraft, Bank of America and many others have embraced the trend and launched iPhone applications to engage with a high-profile audience, appear innovative or benefit from richer mobile media capabilities.

However, too many brands are rushing into the mobile Internet by simply offering the hot new thing: an iPhone app. Then they start realizing that plenty of new stores are opening up. Today, the OVI store by Nokia just launched. It is available globally to an estimated 50 million Nokia device owners across more than 50 Nokia devices (these stats come from Nokia's press release issued this morning but include downloadable items not only embedded onces and this makes a difference; see my initial take here). ATT (yes, the US operator offering the iPhone) announced it will launch OVI store later in the year.

Porting applications to different OS and devices has a cost, so brands need to bet on the horses that are relevant to their own audiences. Then brands start wondering about widgets and optimized mobile websites. So what? What should they do next?

Open mobile Internet browsing and the distribution of widgets and applications via new retail stores represent two sides of the same coin: operator portals are being bypassed. They are currently reinventing their distribution models and launching their own apps and can even partner with some device/OS manufacturers.

Apple is only the tip of the iceberg, as drivers are now in place for mass-market uptake of the mobile Internet in Europe. The expansion of Internet brands, smarter phones, and high-speed networks are enabling compelling user experiences that, coupled with all-you-can-eat data plans, are unleashing usage.

The mobile Internet is gaining momentum, with 24% of European online users regularly accessing the Internet from their mobile phones. A year ago, the percentage was only at 20%.

Non-telecom players, such as media companies, retailers, FMCG, CPG or luxury brands as well as financial institutions are beginning to realize the potential of the mobile Internet market but do not know always where to start. They need to define or refine their mobile strategy to engage directly with consumers via the mobile Internet. They must be aware of the mobile market's unique character as they integrate their mobile Internet services into a multichannel and multimedia strategy — and revamp their partnerships with telecom stakeholders.

Forrester just published a new report on this topic where you will find lots of data on the profile of European mobile Internet users (did you know that 52% of mobile Internet daily users are over 35 years old?), their current usage of mobile services and their interest in using new mobile services.

The report is available here.

For Forrester clients willing to define a mobile strategy, I truly invite you to have a detailed look at 2 must-read reports from my US colleagues Julie Ask and Charles Golvin:

The POST Method: A Systematic Approach To Mobile Strategy

Mobile Technographics®: Understanding Mobile Phone Usage Is The Foundation Of A Mobile Strategy

POST is the acronym for People Objective Strategy and Technology. The idea is that the first step is to start analyzing the mobile profile of your own customers (not that of the average market). Then you can start defining your objectives by deciding on the goals you want to achive. The strategic part consists of determining your approach to meet these objectives. Finally and only finally, you choose the technologies that will enable you to implement your strategy.

This may seem obvious but few companies have adopted a real framework to build a consistent strategy to anticipate the emergence of mass-market mobile services. Mobile Internet is no exception to the rule.

If you want to know more about what it means to a European audience, feel free to contact me at thusson AT forrester DOT com