UBIQUITOUS USE OF MOBILE PLATFORM
The first documented evidence on wireless phones dates as far back as 1908, when Professor Albert Jahnke built the first device, which communicated without wires in Kansas, Missouri.4 While wireless radio technology was widespread during World War II, Motorola first introduced handheld wireless devices in 1973.4 However, the last 20 years have seen an unprecedented growth in mobile devices around the globe. Now, handheld mobile devices are the primary mode of communication in many growth markets, surpassing landline phone systems.
Smartphones and tablets have rapidly engrossed customers in usages other than voice communication and attracted attention from marketers. I am fascinated with their increasing use as a universal device for everything—a remote control for changing television channels, a shopping device at the store, a music store, a stop watch, an alarm clock, and so on. The other day, my neighbor was using her iPhone mirror app to adjust her makeup. However, initial marketing on wireless devices was fairly primitive—using short message service (SMS) or display advertising on the tiny screen. With the maturing wireless space, marketing budgets and techniques have exploded on the mobile platform. Marketers are placing a clear premium on reaching audiences via mobile device screens in the future. While 86 percent of respondents said mobile phones were currently important advertising channels, 98 percent said they expected them to be important in three years’ time.6 Tiny display advertisements are no longer the norm. As I watch YouTube on my tablet, the site gives me the option to skip the advertisement after the first ten seconds of viewing. However, if I continue to watch, the video may go on for a long time, in many cases for minutes.
Mobile platforms have invaded the shopping process and now provide great options for additional information access at shops. These location-aware phones can be pinpointed within 20 yards of accuracy in a shop offering Wi-Fi service, and marketers have provided additional information about products, which can be accessed on the phone. Shoppers also use their phones for comparative shopping, seeking advice, comparing prices, and looking for deals from the competition. In response, stores are actively using phones for location- aware marketing, mobile coupons, loyalty cards, and related marketing activities. Since a mobile device is location aware, it can be used for active placement of location-aware marketing messaging. Also, companies are using mobile devices to develop interactive marketing programs. For example, Foursquare (www.foursquare.com) encourages me to document my visits to a set of businesses it advertises. It provides me with points for each visit and rewards me with the title of “Mayor” if I am the most frequent visitor to a specific business location. Every time I visit Tokyo Joe’s, my favorite neighborhood nearby sushi place, I let Foursquare know about my visit and collect award points. Presumably, Foursquare, Tokyo Joe’s, and all the competing sushi restaurants can use this information to attract my attention at the next dining opportunity.
Online commerce in the United States keeps growing each year on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving, a major US holiday). Traditionally, shoppers have lined up in front of brick-and-mortar stores on the Friday after Thanksgiving. However, mobile devices have provided additional shopping and buying opportunities, and online retailers have been gearing up for Black Friday sales upticks. IBM used its cloud-based analytics on 2013 Black Friday shopper behavior to report that mobile traffic grew to 31.7 percent of all online traffic, increasing by 45 percent over 2012. Mobile sales were also very strong, exceeding
17 percent of total online sales, an increase of 55.4 percent year-overyear. Smartphones drove 19.7 percent of all online traffic, compared to tablets at 11.5 percent, making them the browsing device of choice. When it comes to making the sale, tablets drove 11.7 percent of all online sales, more than double that of smartphones, which accounted for 5.5 percent.7
In addition to providing communication and content, mobile platforms are rapidly gaining popularity for commerce. Mobile wallets can be used for carrying digital money, which can be used to buy goods. In developing countries, where banks are relatively scarce, mobile wallets are gradually becoming quasi banks, as they are used not only for the buying and selling of goods but also for lending money. Like credit cards, mobile wallets can be used instead of money and record the place of transaction. Coupled with communication and content information, they can also provide a fair amount of shopping history before the purchase is made.
The biggest change in the use of mobile technologies is coming from the large number of apps available for both consumer and corporate computing. According to Appbrain, there were 879,506 apps on the Android market as of December 8, 2013.8 Apple has traditionally been a little ahead, and it crossed the million apps mark in October 2013.9 Apps are increasingly transforming mobile devices into enriched browsing and interaction platforms. Many of these apps are location aware and able to provide location-specific capabilities after specific permissions have been obtained from the users.