Is there an App for that?


How many phones do you carry around with you?  After many years, I have now managed to get it down to one.  

Admittedly I am very fortunate to have the superb Nexus One ( which does everything, and in fact lots more than, I could ask of a mobile device.     But the critical application for me is not that it makes and receives calls, oh no, it’s that it has full internet browser capability.  Let me give you an example why.   


I recently spoke at an event which necessitated an overnight stay.  On the morning of the event, I was awoken by the alarm on my phone.  Not unusual, I hear you say.  I then proceeded to check emails, have a couple of IM conversations, send some text messages, check the news and weather on the BBC website, update my Linkedin and Twitter (@RobinsonRG) status, check out my conference venue, access walking directions from my hotel to the conference, use GPS in Google Maps to check that I was going the right way, and at the event itself, micro-blog about the first couple of speakers. All this from my phone.  It wasn’t until mid-morning that I finally used my phone to make a call. 


Perhaps I am not a typical mobile phone user, but I am certainly not an atypical one.  Increasingly, the phone is becoming the internet access device of choice. There are something like 4 billion mobile phone contracts worldwide today, and it is forecast that 38% mobile phones will be smartphones by 2013.  So Internet access via mobile devices will grow exponentially.


I recently had a conversation with a senior marketer in a global technology company.  He rather excitedly told me that they were starting to really step up the advertising and marketing activities, and 2010 was going to be a big year for the company.  He mentioned that airport advertising was going to be a core element of the campaign so my immediate question was: what was his mobile strategy to capture the opportunity this could generate?  He, rather frankly, asked what the hell I was talking about.  I explained that when I am at an airport, I often take notice advertising around me – not being a big shopper, what else is there to do! But after a 5-hour flight I don’t remember the messaging, never mind the call to action, from an ad I saw in a airport lounge.  However, what I am likely to do, if the ad speaks to my needs, is to go online via my mobile phone there and then.  When put in these terms he realised that this was something that he needed to consider.  This holds true not just for airports, but at stations, in taxis and in fact, almost anywhere. 


But mobile can be much more than simply reinforcing brand messages from offline campaigns.  To put the size of the opportunity into perspective,  eBay recently announced that it sold 1.5 million items via mobile handsets during the Christmas period and generated more than $500 million in transactions in 2009. But this is not just a consumer trend. I recently spoke to a B2B insurance company that had policy applications submitted via iPhones. Trust me, it takes some dedication to complete an insurance application form on a 3 inch touch screen!  


So what does this mean when you are planning a marketing campaign?  Well, simply that you need to consider the impact of mobile phone internet usage by your prospects and include a mobile component to your campaigns.  And before you ask, yes this blog was written on my phone.  


Want to hear more about how mobile will impact B2B marketing? Then join me at the IDM B2B Marketing Conference