December 12, 2008

The mobile highway in 2009

Written by Jon Arne Sæterås.Filed under Blog | Be the First to Comment

The development in the mobile industry is taking giant leaps every week. Its hard to keep up. Lots of new stuff, lots of changing stuff and lots of buzz in general. But this is a Mobiletechers job, so we’ll worry about that for you.
Gartner predicts it will be sold 1.4 billion mobile devices in 2009. Many of these will no doubt be iPhones and devices from the “new kids on the block”, such as Garmin for example. These new devices are all Internet devices with wlan and other high speed connectivity methods. Together with advanced browsers this makes the mobile Internet the perfect platform for almost any kind of application.

Focus on usability and user experience.

Usability will become more important. All potential fun for all stakeholders starts with, and rely on, the end users and that their good experience. So the moral is; make the end user happy. Apple has set some new standards in user experience with the iPhone. The usability principles are not revolutionary, but the boldness of daring to implement them on a mobile phone is admirable. So when doing stuff on mobile in 2009, ally your self with someone who knows interaction design and have the experience in creating device- and interaction model independent functional design. If it’s for some reason not possible to achieve the perfect user experience, seriously consider aborting the project. Most likely it is not worth the money. Content is not king, consumer is king.

Mobile portal software.

Do you still need special portal software to handle these new high end devices in 2009? Yes. The diversity and fragmentation is increasing more than ever. So which one to choose…? (hint). Simple answer: 1) Choose the platform that supports the widest range of interaction models. 2) Choose the platform that allows highest level of editorial freedom and control.

Try to look for something else than the traditional feed based mobile portals as well. If you are an Esceninc customer, I recommend Escenic Mobile Solution. This is the most revolutionary mobile portal platform around! And what ever you do; dont fall into the pit of creating a stand-alone iPhone, or other device specific, portal. You will create a maintenace hell! Purcahse a software that handles all this stuff for you allowing you to focus on content!

Mobile metrics

Implement mobile metrics. In 2009 common metric currencies will emerge. In Norway this has already happened. Use these and publish them internally and externally. This will be of great motivation as the graphs will show a very positive trend in 2009! Metrics are also crucial in this phase, because you need to tweek and tune your service by analysing how your audience responds to the changes you make.

Distribution models

Once you have this magnificent mobile offering to your customers on the run, you need to make sure they get to know about it. Start 2009 by telling your marketing- or media agency that there is something called mobile. If you need help in explaining what a mobile phone can do, apart from calling and sending sms, please call us and we’ll gladly help!

You should also implement logic that allows your mobile users to access your mobile portal using the URL they know. For example they can enter “portal.com” regardless of desktop PC/Mac or hand held device. This will simplify your market communication and enhance the user experience significantly! All metrics will increase by 50%! This trend has started and will continue in 2009.

Also remember to tell your users that they actually can use their mobile phone to access your services. Always communicate a keyword to a short code as well. For sms access. Remember that there are more mobile phones out there than PCs! Your users are more likely to have a mobile phone than a PC.

Search is the number one killer-app on mobile Internet. Users tend to use search as a replacement of bookmarks. If they want facebook, they search for facebook on google. They don’t know the bookmark function in their device nor how to typ in a url, so next time they search as well. Be sure to choose a mobile portal platform that enables visibility in search engines.

Messaging

So what about the future of sms services? As mentioned, sms should at least be used as an entry point to your mobile experience. Spend a few quiet minutes during Christmas to think about how powerful sms and mms really is! It allows interaction and dialog initiated from both parties! During 2009 we will see a more holistic approach to mobile where communication includes both messaging and mobile Internet. And maybe also regular, old fashioned desktop based Internet. If you are really serious about mobile, buy a dedicated short code that your users can identify you with. Makes your users feel safe. But don’t spam, be relevant! Send messages only to users that have opt’ed in.

Mobile advertising

Don’t rely on ad networks. Especially local- or regional networks. They wont be able to serve your the ads you need as your traffic grows faster than the number of ad campaigns available in these networks. Another thing about ad networks is that the quality of the ads is so poor it becomes a usability issue. And this, the users of 2009 will not tolerate.

To have success with advertising there are two options in 2009; 1) make the value chain as short and efficient as possible by managing mobile ads in-house using your own ad-people and existing work flows. 2) Choose a ad provider with a network of networks. And also, don’t forget to run campaigns for your own stuff.

If your are an advertiser, plan your mobile ad campaigns differently. Same as you plan differently for print, radio, tv and desktop web. There may not be a breath taking volume in 2009, but the quality of the leads will go way beyond what you are used to from other channels.

Users and usage.

Along with better accessibility and better mobile Internet devices, users will discover what a great thing mobile Internet is and the user count will grow significantly if you take good care of your users. But don’t think that your mobile users will behave as your users on PC web. Most likely mobile users wil have an casual, almost random use of your service. Remember that the mobile phone is first and foremost a social device used for calling and sms’ing friends, not to consume content. Be prepared of getting almost the same number of unique users if you multiply one weeks unique users by 4 as the actual counted unique users within a month.

Don’t forget to collect phone numbers! The phone number is the ultimate key to communicate with your customer! Collect opt-ins wherever you can, start using the mobile channel at once. It is all about CRM.

What else?

So what about Android? It will be there in 2009 alright, but most likely, you wont know unless you read the small print manual. Your customers will still buy a SonyEricsson or a Samsung that happens to have a different operating system. So dont worry about that. We will handle it for you and your users.

Another buzz word is “social networking”. I say; don’t try to create a social network, use the ones that already exist. It is not the social network it self that is the value, but the meta data around it. The social network trend is a step towards using the web as a platform or that funny stuff called web 2.0. The mobile phone is a crucial part of any web 2.0 project as it holds all the important capabilities you wont find on any other device. The mobile phone is simply the missing link.

Data and metadata about your mobile ecosystem is the real gold. Make sure that you can analyse all kinds of data accross channels. You can use the data to create a personal, relevant and surprisingly addictive service. 2009 is probably a year too soon to implement this, though. This strategy must be a part of a greater super-internet strategy. But you’ll definitley hear and read a lot about this next year. To make this as less painfull as possible, make sure you choose a provider that can offer you the package. Do not shop around for bits and peaces. When all data is stored in the same basement, this becomes a much more smooth operation.

mCommerce? If you sell physical goods like books, tickets and stuff, 2009 will be a very interesting year for you! Imagine running a TV campaign and letting people buy the product as they see the commercial still sitting in the sofa! Stay tuned!

And most definitely; 2009 is the year of mobile!

About the Author Jon Arne Sæterås

Product Director

Other posts written by Jon Arne Sæterås (40 posts)

@jonarnes

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