It’s been said that the problem with predicting the future is that in the short term we underestimate and in the long term we overestimate. So last summer when I saw this slide estimating that smartphone sales would outstrip PC’s by 2012 I was shocked.
What’s behind this unanticipated growth is not just generous subsidies from carriers. It’s also the growing availability of useful, engaging and relevant tools on mobile devices which have made them a more compelling and desired purchase. These tools are opening up a world of new communication, activity and behavior. Sixty percent of the time now spent on smart phones is spent on new activities such as maps, gaming and social networking. Apple’s App store is growing at an astronomical rate when compared to the growth of the iTunes music store. iPad growth is eclipsing the sales rate of the iPod and iPhone and topping it off President Obama sounded like a Verizon ad yesterday when he announced a goal of bringing wireless access to 98% of all Americans.
All of these changes herald a rapid shift in communications and culture which John Doerr, of the high tech venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, calls SoLoMo. SOcial for its role in maintaining always-on connections with friends, events and activities, LOcal for its ability to gain relevance from location and real time activity and MObile for its ubiquitous, available and anywhere presence. For marketers the rapid rise of SoLoMo culture will require a swift change in our perspective and approach to messaging and communications. Opportunities will grow for those who will be able to connect to consumers with relevant, useful and engaging applications, solutions and messages. As migration grows from desktop web to mobile web, mobile sites will need to become increasingly sophisticated and take into account the combination of relevancy, location and timing. The deployment of NFC chips in mobile devices will create an opportunity to interact with consumers at the point and the time of purchase. Reward driven marketing and social gaming will begin to take a larger role as engagement becomes a critical factor in maintaining relationships between brands and mobile consumers.
While this is happening very quickly it’s important to remember that, as Google named their mobile marketing conference, "It’s Not Too Late to be Early". The unprecedented growth of mobile is coming as a surprise to most and the best thing we can do is to start learning, testing and adopting mobile based practices. If we can’t predict we can at least prepare because if the good news is that we’ll have 50% smartphone penetration in the US within months, the bad news is that we’ll probably never get jetpacks.
What’s your prediction?