Why Mobile Is Hot

We’ve been talking about mobile for 13 years, but it’s finally found its true promise in 2009. Here’s why. (Links refer to Forrester reports, which may be read by clients; non-clients can still access the Executive Summaries).

1. Devices and Networks are up to speed in an unprecedented way.

  Most US/EU consumers have the ability today to engage in mobile data activities because of:

·     Smarter phones – “The Smartphone is dead,” because most handsets in EU/US have smart characteristics like cameras, music, and video. (See The Smartphone Is Dead).

·       Faster Networks – High-speed 3G wireless capability is growing rapidly: In the US, from 32% in 2008 to 46% in 2009 and 57% in 2010. Including 2.5G, 98% of phones in 2009 and 99% in 2010 have data capabilities. (See US Mobile Forecast 2009-2014).

·       Innovative Device Leaders – Newer devices like iPhone 3GS (See Apple World Domination), Google Android phones, and Nokia’s N97&N900 are pushing forward the convenience of devices (See Product Convenience), creating much higher expectations among consumers about what their devices can accomplish.

2. Applications greatly expanded the uses – and usefulness – of mobile devices.  Consumers can do a lot more than ever before because of:

·       App Stores– These simple, dynamic distribution mechanisms “open” the mobile phone to developers in an unprecedented way. (See App Stores Plug A Gap).  Result? 100,000+ Apps developed for the iPhone and 1 billion+ downloads.

·       GPS Integration – Mobile phones are now situated to take over the GPS industry (See Phone Based Navigation Will Dominate), and new applications take advantage of GPS, integrating it into their operations (See Mobile Technographics EU).

·       Internet Access Ubiquity – With 4 billion phones (versus 1 billion PCs), mobile is the key access method for the Internet today – and Apps are simplifying and extending this experience greatly. (See Why Mobile’s Time Has Come )

·       Non-Tech Companies– Applications are opening up entirely new relationships between consumers and banks (See Bank of America case study), insurance companies (file accident report with photo from your mobile at the scene; See Nationwide Case Study), media companies (See The Weather Channel Case Study), travel companies (See American Airlines Case Study), and many others.

3. Social Media is moving rapidly to the mobile phone.The future – and for numerous users, the present – of social networking is mobile, because of:

·       24*7 Access – Social traffic increasingly moves to mobile phones from PCs, as people access Facebook Apps on Blackberry, iPhone, and other platforms – making the concept of “going online” obsolete, as users are constantly connected. (See Social Media 24/7)

·       Social Location– GPS plus social media means coordinating with people in your social network while on the go.  Nokia’s Ovi Lifecasting integrates the user’s GPS position into Facebook, and helps friends find one another for impromptu real world meetups. (See Why Mobile Could Reinvent Social Computing)

·       Convenience(and Context) – Users want to upload videos, photos, taken now to Facebook and Twitter, making their participation in social networks immediate and contextual. Handset makers are fighting to create the best experience, which we analyze in terms of convenience (See The CQ of Mobile Facebook)

After years in which the theory far outpaced the practice, mobile looks to be *the* hot topic in 2010.  Is your company investing in a mobile product strategy?