Upwardly mobile

11 Feb 2008

Most new mobile phones and devices have the processing power of a small laptop, and marketers are beginning to tap into their massive potential. What is the future for mobile marketing?

There are now more mobile phones than people in Ireland. Think about that for a moment. According to the latest figures from the Commission for Communications Regulation, mobile phone penetration in Ireland now stands at 114pc of the population. But it’s not just that almost everyone we know has a mobile, the important point for marketers is what this device can do.

Most new mobiles have the processing power of a small laptop, colour screens akin to tiny TVs and a wireless connection to the internet. The US research house MultiMedia Intelligence reports worldwide unit shipments of feature-rich mobile phones will exceed 300 million units this year, outstripping shipments of TVs.

Mobile is a hive of activity and 2007 was a banner year, bookended by the arrivals of Apple and Google to the market. It’s not clear yet whether sales of Apple’s much talked about iPhone will be restricted to gadget lovers with deep pockets, but its effect is likely to be felt far beyond buyers. Industry figures believe its presence alone has people excited about mobile again, forcing other manufacturers to up the feature quotient. The massive popularity of online social networking has led to the arrival of Bebo on O2 mobiles and Facebook on the addictive BlackBerry email device. 3 now sells handsets with Skype internet calling software. Google Maps is also available on some mobile phone platforms.

This article appears in the latest edition of Marketing Age, the bi-monthly official magazine of the Marketing Institute of Ireland, which is in shops now. To read the full version of the story in the digital edition of Marketing Age, go to www.marketingage.ie.