Michael O'Neill
Jan 14, 2010

Perspective... Ring out the old, ring in the new. Finally, it's good to talk about mobiles.

A familiar refrain is being heard at the start of 2010, and it is one that would not have been out of place four or more years ago.

Perspective... Ring out the old, ring in the new. Finally, it's good to talk about mobiles.
Yes, once again, this year is set to be the year of mobile. Earlier proclamations of mobiles’ expected surge have resulted in a rather unpleasant comedown. Because, despite its obvious value to consumers and its apparently perfect fit with the needs of marketers - a communication tool that is always on, always personal and in the pockets of the vast majority of consumers - the mobile phone as an advertising platform has consistently failed to impress.

This is especially true in Asian markets where the lack of mobile marketing campaigns has been at odds with high mobile ownership levels and strong communications infrastructure. Even with the onset of the age of the smartphone, marketers have been slow to migrate their campaigns online. The iPhone and its various competitors, which have launched in Asian markets over the past 18 months, have created mobile phones that are as much about content as they are about communications. Today, users have handsets that serve as portable media centres, and a genuine culture has emerged around mobile content. And yet, mobile has so far been a hard sell for brands in the region.

So why should 2010 be any different? For a start, the big media players have in recent months signalled their intentions in the mobile advertising space. Last week, it was announced that Apple would acquire mobile ad network Quattro Wireless in a deal valued up to US$275 million. This came just two months after Google had finalised a similar deal that gave them ad network AdMob in a $750 million stock deal. Google’s launch of the Android-operated Nexus One smartphone will only add further to the mix, with the media giant set to reboot the concept of mobile in much the same way that Apple did with the iPhone and its apps. It is only a matter of time before these deals begin to impact Asia.

In the more immediate future, though, there are a number of developments closer to home. These include the potential growth in mCommerce, which in countries such as China could easily follow in the same footsteps as eCommerce, particularly as smartphones and 3G networks continue to encourage mobile owners to use their handsets as an alternative to the PC.

The year ahead may not be the year that marketing goes feet first into the mobile space, but it will very likely be a breakthrough year as marketers, handset owners and telcos experiment with the medium’s new potential. And while it may be perfectly possible that we all meet again at the same time next year, singing from the same hymn sheet, the portents for mobile marketing are certainly better than ever.

Got a view?
Email michael.o’[email protected]

This article was originally published in the 14 January 2010 issue of Media.

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