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A Google face-off with Apple? Bite me
By Lauren Mooney
January 15, 2008

Advertisers[Mobile] phones are getting smarter and smarter

Smarter phones and smarter companies, that's the combination that Tony Hilton is betting on for next year.

Apple's iPhone and Google's insatiable ambition are going to influence mobile advertising and commerce in 2008, according to Mr. Hilton, president and general counsel at ICE Innovative Technologies, a marketing service for the entertainment industry.

Mobile Marketer's Lauren Mooney interviewed Mr. Hilton.


What is the key trend in mobile advertising in 2008?

With Google stepping into the cell phone business with their offer, the mobile industry is going to respond with an entire host of capabilities to compete. The mobile industry will do everything from developing their own capabilities to using new technologies that pop up, all to squeeze Google into a corner and maintain their long-standing control.

How will 2008 differ from 2007 in mobile advertising?
Many economists say we are entering a recession now, so money is going to get a little tight when it comes to spending.

However, there is opportunity that still remains in mobile. Apple has set a new standard for the mobile industry, and the next-generation iPhone will raise the bar even higher. We're already seeing new phones with an iPhone look-and-feel but offering more features, so to see what comes out in 2008 should be interesting.

However, more than that is the newfound surge of interest in mobile advertising. Some might think it isn't new at all, but much of the offerings to date have been a little lackluster.

Google's influence, once again, is at the heart of what will be a major wave in new advertising models. A lot of money will be put into competing with Google, and a lot of money will be made by the right type of model. Though, I think you won't see a model step to the front until the latter half of 2008, if one manages to appear.

What does this mean for marketers?
The most obvious answer is new opportunity. There will be a major flow of marketing efforts to take advantage of new channels into consumer brains through mobile.

Much like how banner advertising experienced its surge in the mid- to late 90s as a new channel for marketing, every advertiser and marketer will fall all over each other to snatch up the opportunity to make use of new mobile marketing channels.

Every single model that comes forward will be tested and used, including, and because of, Google. Then, we'll see which one will rule in mobile Google or something else.

What other trends do you anticipate in 2008?
I believe the trend is, and will remain, convergence. Phones are getting smarter and smarter, and this trend has led to a consumer expectation that requires the mobile device to be a mini-desktop computer in your pocket.

Consumers are looking for their mobile device to be everything the traditional desktop computer is and everything the laptop isn't a connection to the world, and tool for work, and a toy for play, all in their pocket.

"An iPod, a cell phone, an Internet communicator" these were the words that got the crowd roaring when Steve Jobs announced the iPhone, and what made the iPhone a big seller on release day. Now it's going to be more: an iPod, a cell phone, an Internet communicator, a movie theater, a word processor, a book [and] a gateway to the universe.

What were some key developments in 2007?
Once again, though some would find other movements forward more prevalent, the key development in mobile commerce for 2007 is convergence. Why? Because it's the herald to 2008-2010. Merging [the] iPod into a phone with total Internet capability is the pathway to the future.

Mobile advertising is becoming more and more prominent, and the iPhone opens the field to bigger and better efforts. As new mobile technologies are released, you will see a true emergence of mobile marketing beyond the text-message campaign.

Who do you anticipate will be key players in this area in 2008?
Apple will remain a key player, as will Nokia, but Google will emerge as the next big player. It remains to be seen, however, as to whether their role will simply be as an impetus for bigger and better things, like TiVo, or if they will become a major force in the mobile world as they became in the Internet universe. The former is more likely.

What challenges do you think mobile commerce faces in 2008?
The biggest challenge faced by commerce is always the same, an offering that just makes sense to consumers. Many times features are offered with prominence in mobile devices that turn out not to be a significant draw.

What was a significant draw in 2007? An iPod, a cell phone, an Internet communicator. Better versions of old staples. The industry should start there before trying to wow consumers with new features.

Is mobile commerce fully integrated with the other channels or will it be in 2008?
[The] iPhone has provided the convergence into the other channel, but it's still limited. An easy-to-use interface coupled with access to Web content is a drastic step forward in this regard, but until a user has the full range of Internet use available on mobile that they have on their computer, there will always be a limitation to the impact of commerce from the other channel. If I can't play Flash on my iPhone, how will I see some of that Internet video marketing?

What is the one thing marketers should do this year in commerce?
Think outside the box. Marketers know their business well enough, the issue is finding different avenues to use their craft. Don't just use what you know works, find the new stuff you don't yet know works. It's coming, just be open to experimenting.

This article appeared in Mobile Marketer's Mobile Outlook 2008. It is saved in the Classic Guides section on www.mobilemarketer.com. Please click here to download the PDF file.

Assistant Lauren Mooney covers banking and payments, commerce, content, database/CRM, media and music. Reach her at lauren@mobilemarketer.com.

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