Home > Mobile > Bringing mobile mania down to earth

Bringing mobile mania down to earth

April 27th, 2007

Earlier this week, I reported that I’ve finally become a regular cell phone user.

It’s really opened my eyes.

PCs have reached a plateau. Yes, they will get faster. Yes, they will continue to do great new things. But overall the pattern for their use  – the structure of the PC experience – has been set.

They’re like automobiles. Today’s cars are a lot better than the original Model A Ford, but essentially, not a whole lot has changed: they run on gasoline, they’ve got four rubber wheels, and they’re controlled by a round steering wheel and a gas pedal.

On the other hand, the mobile world is wide open and nowhere near formed.

On my way to System 2007, I found a copy of a magazine called "Smartphone & Pocket PC."  It’s a little bit thin – just 96 pages – and frankly, a lot of the content was incomprehensible to me, but it makes for eye opening reading.

How will we as marketers exploit this new medium? It beats me, but clearly this is a space to watch. One thing I can say is that it looks to me that mobile is going to break down to: communication, games, and tools, including, but not limited to, search.

Where does advertising fit into this? I’m not sure it does. If intrusive spam-like messages are annoying on a PC, they’re murder in the handheld

My guess – and that’s all it is at this point – is that the opportunities for marketers will come in two forms: 1) providing content that people need and it makes sense for them to access on their handhelds and 2) ranking high in the search engines for the kinds of things that handheld users will be searching for most commonly.

In my last article on this subject, I mentioned that there are really two kinds of searching: involved and simple.

"Involved searching" is if I’m planning a vacation to Europe and want to do background research on hotels and destinations or if I’m an engineer checking out the virtues of different vendors to help me with a technical problem I’m trying to solve.  Involved searches are for PCs.

Simple searchers are for what I call "on the ground" questions and problems like: 1) what’s the weather going to be tonight, 2) what’s the score of the playoff game, 3) where’s a good place to get Mexican food in Toronto. Not only are PCs not needed for these kinds of searches, but odds are folks won’t have a PC handy to get the answers to these questions.

I think travelers are going to end up being the heaviest users of handhelds for searching purposes. Nothing earth shattering there, but sometimes the obvious is worth stating. And what do travelers need? Current, localized information…like where to eat, where to stay, what to see, how to get there, weather, logistical info.

Most tourists don’t want to lug laptops with them on vacation. But handhelds. That’s going to be a different story.

Comparing travel to a military campaign…the PC is where the tourist plays general. He plots out the Big Moves of his trip: picking the destination, buying airline tickets, securing lodging.

The handheld is where the the tourist plays infantryman. It’s at the handheld level where a lot of the travel dollar decisions are going to be be made: exactly where to eat, alternative lodgings, side trips, unique entertanment choices. These "on the ground" decisions are made when you’re at your destination.

If I needed a big new project, I’d create an international network of mobile friendly search engines that provide this kind of "on the ground" info to travelers. In Chicago? Hit the button for Chicago Mobile Search and you’d have a menu featuring choices like these: Food, Lodging, Entertainment, Weather, Tools.

Tools would include things like currency calculators, phrase books, general maps. All the food, lodging, entertainment listings etc. would come with a map and GPS. See where the cafe is on a map, then have your GPS walk you to it.

For all I know such a search service already exists, but if it doesn’t and you want to get a lock on a particular location, consider creating a mobile friendly searchable directory that’s specific to your area. Sign up local businesses as advertisers, promote the heck out of it, make sure you rank high in the search engines for it, and watch the dollars roll in.

Categories: Mobile Tags:
Comments are closed.