Introduction - Mobile Is Game Changing

The author has some grandiose notions about mobile: it's bigger than the internet and it's about to change everything. Marketers in particular barely recovered from the shock of the Internet, many are still operating under the premises and practices of mass media, and they are now faced with something bigger and more significantly different that is going to require yet another shift.

Television was the "first screen" of marketing, which revolutionized the way marketers reached customers, putting their messages into millions of homes as the medium became ubiquitous. It allowed one-to-many broadcasts in which advertisers had considerable control. The television was a marketing machine.

The Internet became the "second screen," which spread to ubiquity within a decade. Unlike television, it was not controlled by marketers, but was initially a network of people in which commercial interests were prohibited for a few years, and unwelcome ever since. It was a medium in which marketers could not push their messages to an audience, but had to attract an audience to their message. Moreover, it was an interactive medium, in which customers expected to talk back and be listened to.

The smartphone is the "third screen" that liberates the consumer from their living room or office space and gives them the ability to share information from anywhere they happen to be. This is tremendous, because mobile technology integrates with peoples' everyday lives - it is there with them, wherever they are, rather than something they have to withdraw from other activities to do.

Smartphone usage is also a global phenomenon. The Internet depended on an expensive and fragile web of physical wires, which were not feasible in poorer countries or those in which geography was hostile to land lines. Cellular towers are cheaper and more durable, so the mobile platform is available in many nations where the Internet was not feasible.

The Under-the-Radar Revolution

The author claims that mobile today is similar to the Internet in 1995, in that most companies have not dipped a toe in the water - some covet the first-mover advantage while others are waiting for their competition to blaze a trail and make mistakes from which they can learn. There are hundreds of small start-up companies that will eventually become the giants of the medium.

One significant difference between the early Internet and early mobile is that the infrastructure is already in place: content and services developed for the Internet can be leveraged for mobile with much greater ease. Most customers are already accustomed to using digital resources can readily transfer their knowledge (and data) to the mobile platform. And everyday people, not just computer enthusiasts, are ready to embrace mobile technology.

The author suggests that there are many enthusiasts who are eager to leap into the mobile world, but companies seem reluctant to take the plunge. He reckons that businesspeople simply do not recognize the potential, or feel an urgent need to leverage the medium. Perhaps they do not recall the upheaval of the Internet, in which fast-moving companies took an early lead and those who waited were left out: some companies, and even some industries, were crushed by their own lethargy.

The author firmly believes that mobile has the same potential - and companies that remain "anchored" to traditional media may find themselves sunk rather than lifted by the rising tide.

Mobile Is Unique

The author provides a list of ways in which mobile is different from previous channels:

The Mobile Market

The author asserts that 73% of the world population have cell phones (EN: again, comparing number of devices to number of people is fallacious in that many users have multiple devices. I am simply going to delete any further claims of this kind.)

To put this into perspective:

Also unlike television and the Internet, mobile is not an America-only phenomenon, and other countries such as Japan are far more aggressive in adopting the technology. The author talks about some of the things that are being done with smartphones - the phone is the least-used component, and many use data services.

The Untethered Consumer

The mobile technology has also resulted in changes in consumer behaviors. People are performing services that were once done for them by employees of firms. They are reading magazines on mobile devices, playing games, and shopping. (EN: None of these are new behaviors, but are existing behaviors that are now done in a wider range of locations and with greater frequency. I expect there may be new behaviors that are emerging, but it's a bit of a stretch given these particular examples.)

Marketers need to be attentive to changes in human behavior, because success is easier to achieve by accommodating natural behaviors rather than attempting to force customers to behave in unnatural or inconvenient ways. The travel industry, particularly travel agencies, learned this lesson the hard way when they refused to accommodate the digital channel and tried to compel the customers to continue visiting their offices.

It's also suggested that mobile is becoming the channel of choice for some market segments. A firm's choice to refrain from doing mobile is effectively refusing to do business with customers who prefer that channel. In time, they will be unable to remain competitive if they continue to throw away that market.

The Mobile End Game

The author tosses out some random thoughts:

The author ends the introduction with the battle cry, "the time for marketers to get into mobile is now." Wait for others to act, and you will be left in their dust. The aim of this book is to provide information that will help marketers understand how to leverage this growing channel.