Will 2010 Finally be “The Year of Mobile?”

January 21, 2010

Doesn’t it seem like every year for the last few we have been inundated with predictions at blogs like this one that the upcoming year will be the one where mobile marketing will take over the world? Don’t get me wrong: Mobile has come a long way from merely using text messages in 2004 and from when I was a youngster, but whether it has lived up to the hype and become as huge as it was thought to be is an argument worth having.

Let’s take a look at 2009 and have that argument. Here are some significant things that went down last year or are set to go down in early 2010 with mobile technologies and marketing:

  • Branded iPhone applications explode
  • The Google-introduced Android OS emerges with the Nexus One and Droid
  • In-stadium marketing continues to grow
  • Location-based check-in services like Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp and MyTown take off
  • Mobile giving campaigns make a real impact — Americans have pledged $27 million via text message for Haitian relief efforts as of Tuesday
  • We are about to be introduced to the Apple tablet that may or may not be called the iPad that has to be scaring the bejesus out of Amazon and its e-reader market share with the Kindle
  • We will also soon see the “Hulu for Magazines,” a joint venture from publishers to distribute digital versions of its products under one roof

So there are a few. I know I’m neglecting to mention other notable points, but has mobile yet blown up and defined the way we market and are marketed to? No, and I think 2010 will struggle to be that year, too. Here are a few thoughts:

  • Geolocation services like Foursquare will hit a wall. I am resisting this service as many others are embracing it and hailing it as the next Twitter and other great stuff. I kind of find it annoying to read “Joe Blow and nine others are at Bob’s Bar,” especially if you aren’t from that person’s area. I think it might continue to grow, but flood news feeds to the point where it really pisses people off and becomes like spam. This is unless the service figures out a good way to only have updates sent to followers from that region.
  • How large companies will get in on location. Also about these check-in services, they are limited in the way they are currently being used. They are awesome for small businesses, but what about large companies that don’t have somewhere you can check in at? Len Kendall discusses how a company with this problem, Netflix, could use Foursquare over at Arik Hanson’s blog.
  • Privacy and security issues. With everyone checking in all over the place, people will be concerned about Big Brother Google and everyone else keeping tabs of where we all go and having too much access to personal info, especially with mobile commerce and credit cards.

What do you think? Will, as Brad Stone put it in this great New York Times piece, children think they can swipe every screen they see (like with iPhone pictures) due to mobile technologies over the next couple years? Am I underestimating its value?

Photo courtesy of Marketing Pilgrim