Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Mobile Future is Now

By Brianna Swales and Lynda Starr, Vantage Communications

We’re at that time of the year again—when everyone dusts off their crystal balls and starts thinking about the upcoming New Year and what it will bring personally and professionally.  At Vantage, we follow trends and breaking news to help our clients prioritize marketing and sales goals for the coming year. Can you believe how quickly the year has gone by?

Here are the trends in no particular order that we think will characterize the mobile landscape.

The circle continues:  Faster data rates and additional bandwidth to spur new applications which will further push bandwidth.

While 3G networks have made strides in download speeds reaching 600 Kbps to 1.4 Mbps, the next-gen network, 4G, offers additional bandwidth of 1 Gbps for stationary reception and 100 Mbps for mobile reception that supports new applications.  This in turn is pushing carriers to further upgrade bandwidth. T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, MetroPCS and Verizon Wireless are each upgrading networks to increase capacity and data rates to enable subscribers to take advantage of robust applications and services.

Smile! Mobile video and smart phone adoption to surge upward

The growth of 3G and 4G networks has increased the use of mobile video, running the gamut from mobile TV, video on demand (VOD), and video messaging to mobile advertising, video conferencing and more. By the end of 2010, over 23.9 million people will have viewed mobile video, according to eMarketer, with those numbers expected to double by 2013. For service providers, mobile video opens new revenue streams. Much of this growth is propelled by smartphone adoption, which has reached about 23 percent of U.S. adults. Moreover, new tablet devices are improving video quality and are being seen more and more as replacements for laptops.

Location-based services know where you are and might just reward you for it

Compelling applications and availability of enabling technologies have led to the rise in location-based services, which take advantage of the geographical position of the mobile device to provide consumers with everything from personalized weather to coupon offers. Location-based services (LBS) offers advantages to both consumers and businesses.  For example, with location-based marketing, businesses can provide information to consumers in proximity. Moreover, consumers can check in with Foursquare and Facebook Places and become word-of-mouth marketers for their favorite proprietors. Location-based services increase customer loyalty and create a new class of influencers, which is changing the marketing model.

The Mobile Wallet is coming

Mobile commerce is beginning to change the way we shop and make purchases by allowing consumers to make point-of-sale purchases via mobile devices. Gartner estimates that by the end of 2010, 1.2 billion people will carry handsets capable of rich, mobile commerce. Likewise, mobile commerce is tied to the availability of bandwidth able to handle an onslaught of activity such as recent experiments by Macy’s and Best Buy.

Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile USA are jointly launching a mobile commerce initiative dubbed Isis. The Isis network will use Near Field Communications (NFC), through which consumers can make purchases by waving a radio microchip-equipped smartphone at a corresponding retailer reader unit. Google, Apple and Research in Motion have also announced plans to integrate NFC technology into their products.

Anyone who watched The Jetsons is most likely waiting for “the future” to get here.  But as these mobile trends and others come to fruition, it might just seem like the future is now.

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