The mobile Internet revolution continues to accelerate, fueled by the latest smartphone releases from Palm, Apple and Blackberry. It’s not so important whether people prefer Blackberry, Apple or Other. What does matter is the functionality these phones bring to the market. With computing capability, broadband Internet, and GPS location ID, smartphones are capturing market interest to the tune of 25%.
Some — including the New York Times — feel Internet-savvy mobile phones have become a necessity. Most importantly, they are finally realizing the much ballyhooed promise of the mobile Internet. Between stellar applications developed for the iPhone and other platforms to mobile social networking, people are engaging online using their phones more than ever before.
Communicators should be paying attention to the increasingly mobile Internet. In last year’s Pew Future of the Internet study, 67% of the 1000+ visionaries through the Internet would be accessed primarily through handheld devices. And according to Pew:
Some 39% of Americans have positive and improving attitudes about their mobile communication devices, which in turn draws them further into engagement with digital resources – on both wireless and wireline platforms.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking the handheld form is the same as the wireline computer based Internet. Yes, reviewing your site and making it mobile friendly is just smart. But the mobile ecosystem is quite different, creating usage patterns that communicators will need to adapt to. This mobile ecosystem report authored by Joe Horrigan for Pew Internet shows five early types of mobile user, only one of which prefers social networking.
One of the most exciting and obvious uses has been the development of mobile applications. While the iPhone has dominated this story to date, the Palm Pre and hopefully the open Android API will make this a much more competitive marketplace. And in an effort to compete with Apple, mobile powerhouse Nokia recently launched their Avi store for its mobile assets.
Regardless of platform, the usefulness of applications from a brand experience extension standpoint has been proven. But applications do not necessarily require social functionality, and in some cases — like banks, stores or travel organizations — simply allow the brand loyalist to do their business from their phone.
Other exciting applications include the now increasingly prevalent use of mobile video (gawd, is this Cloverfield redux?). And of course, mobile social networking via traditional plays like Facebook, Skype and Twitter has been well discussed.
However, a new type of social networking tied to GPS-based location is starting to emerge. GPS-based social networking seems to have a variety of players vying for market leadership, including Brightkite, FourSquare, gypsii, and Loopt.
I’ve been playing with each of these mobile location networks, and everyone seems to have some unique functionality, while none of them feel like a homerun yet. For example, Loopt has a dynamic Mix app and allows you to ping friends, but you can’t comment on status. Brightkite, the veteran of the group, allows you to comment on status, but direct contact is less accessible.
These GPS networks are exciting and different, pushing the boundaries of conventional social networking. What’s right to communicate, what’s not? I have not geo-located from home yet, as I prefer to keep that information private. Another example is when is it appropriate to ping someone and say, “Hi, I’m in your neck of the woods. Coffee?” Early, new and developing, one thing is certain, one or two of these networks will take a leadership position, and own mobile and social.
Prior Buzz Bin Posts: