In mobile, one size does not fit all

22 02 2010

Last week I sent out an informal survey to my Twitter and Facebook network with questions determining how people feel about their mobile phones. Sixteen people responded, and I assume that all of the respondent’s have above average-knowledege about mobility and technology and live or have some connection to the Pacific Northwest. This is a distinct, unrepresentative population.

That fact that the group is so relatively uniform makes the answers that much more surprising and interesting. In the survey I asked just two questions:

  1. What do you see driving the future of mobile innovation?
  2. When considering the purchase of a new phone, what do you find important?

I asked people to rate a variety of answers to those questions as unlikely, somewhat likely, likely or very likely.

For question one, respondents thought social media, photos/video and location based services were most likely to drive mobile innovation. For social media and location-based services, 62.5 percent of respondents found them both to be “very likely” to drive mobile innovation. Voice services, security and financial transactions drew lower response rates.

For question two, respondents thought that carrier and applications were most important when considering the purchase of a new phone and thought voice quality and price were also important. They found looks and security to be least important when considering a phone purchase.

What does this mean? For this audience of connected, early adopters, marketers should know that carriers, applications and services matter, and looks, security and financial transaction don’t matter as much in the purchasing decision.


Microsoft reenters the fray

15 02 2010

Earlier today, Microsoft announced Windows Phone 7 Series, a new operating system that includes Xbox and Zune integration, and positioned its future phones to compete with iPhone, BlackBerry and Android in the US and Nokia abroad.

Microsoft’s past mobile operating system behaved like mobile PCs (and quite well), but the iPhone showed that people want different, more optimized mobile experiences. Microsoft addressed this issue by putting social experiences at the center of Windows Phone 7 Series and allowing people to make and see social communications in their online networks – Windows Live (including Xbox) and Facebook – without having to use specific, individual applications. This is a push approach (as opposed to manually “pulling” the data) that will be attractive to consumers who will enjoy the automation of their social networks on their phones.

We saw this strategy with Google Wave last month: Companies are vying to become the preferred social media aggregate. Whereas just a couple years ago companies were competing for growing social network market share, they are now trying to envelop each other.

What does this mean for consumers? Great experiences lie ahead. Microsoft and its competitors continue to challenge each other and innovate in the mobile industry. In the short term, if companies continue this trend of aggregation, people will benefit with functionality much like push email: People will  see more automated, agnostic social network updates rather than having to rely on specific applications to gain content. With that evolution, companies will better service customers who want fewer steps to communicate and more time to interact.

Will Google hit ‘Send’ for mobile, social Gmail application?

8 02 2010

The Wall Street Journal reports that Google will tomorrow announce more “social” features to Gmail, such as status updates and sharing content. Considering that Gmail is a primary, free email service, this is a really great innovation for consumers. It also threatens dominant, dedicated social networks like Facebook and Twitter unless they too can be integrated into the Gmail social streams. Hopefully they will be.

What about mobile? Currently, Gmail can be accessed by every major mobile platform through IMAP setting, but I think that a social Gmail would require an entirely new application to utilize more rich functionality. This provides Google an opportunity to differentiate Android with a best-in-class social Gmail experience and extend its presence on other phones like Blackberry and iPhone with must-have social Gmail applications — like it has with Google Maps.

At risk will be those computer and mobile applications like TweetDeck and Tweetie that already aggregate social feeds like a social Gmail would, but don’t provide that core email service to complement. Also at risk are mobile check-in applications like Foursquare, which would have a hard time competing with a social Gmail mobile application that has the same GPS functionality and services (maybe without the gaming/novelty component).

Speaking of services, this is where a social Gmail mobile application could really excel. With its recent acquisition of AdMob, Google is ramping up the mobile advertisement services. By drawing from a pool of data drawn from a connected social network, email and search, the ad services could be incredibly targeted and sink the competition.

Social Gmail may be an evolutionary step for the email platform, but it could be revolutionary for Google’s mobile strategy.