Why 2013 Is Not the Year of Mobile!

mobile phone imageWe see the predictions every year: This will be the year of mobile!

Every year, the prediction falls short and every year the pundits dust it off and bring it back out.

It isn’t because mobile adoption is slower than expected, or even because marketers aren’t paying attention to mobile.

We won’t see the year of mobile because mobile isn’t a new channel we switch to, it is an evolution in behavior. Mobile is offering new and better ways for us to do the same things we have done from desktops and laptops.

But But But… Wait!

  • But mobile means we are always connected! Remember the switch from the dialup modem to always on DSL or cable? Remember cutting the Ethernet cable for wi-fi? Mobile is just one more step in digital’s always-on evolution.
  • But apps are uniquely mobile! Remember the Yahoo and Google desktop widgets? Have you seen the apps available for Chrome or Salesforce? Apps are often a better way to deliver functionality. The drive towards improving functionality and user experience is not unique to mobile. Even Windows 8 is adopting it!
  • But customers are adopting mobile! Yes, just like they adopted broadband and laptops in the last decade.
  • But mobile is local! Try Googling supermarket from your desktop and you will see results near you. Mobile is a vast improvement in location based services, but it is still evolutionary. Fine grained location on a mobile is a far smaller change than the introduction of TV or the internet was.

Not only is mobile a further evolution of existing trends, but mobile devices and digital marketing are evolving, removing many of the distinctions that once existed.

Today, combining mobile devices and marketing communication does not create the problems it once did.

  • Emails are mobile accessible. Today I’m floored when I get an email that doesn’t render well on my mobile.
  • Websites are more mobile accessible. I rarely stumble across a site that isn’t functional on my smartphone, even if it doesn’t have a mobile-specific version.
  • Mobile devices are more capable. My old BlackBerry struggled to display the simplest WAP page (it would be about 5 years old if it was still living). In contrast, my current phone, although it is two years old, handles the full version of most sites without any problem.

One day mobile will be the primary screen. Until then, mobile accessibility will slowly pervade all elements of digital marketing until marketers consider mobile devices and usage modes a part of online usage.

Mobile integration into marketing, not mobile marketing, is the future for mobile.

Your Turn

What other ways do you see mobile and traditional digital coming together? Share your view in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

P.S. Yes, this post was drafted on a smartphone.

Photo Credit: Phil Roeder via Compfight cc

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  • SRC

    I have always thought that mobile isn’t about emerging technologies, but rather emerging human behavior. Glad to see others finally agreeing with me :)

    Anyway, mobile hasn’t provided any Earth shattering breakthrough within the B2B space. It’s simply treated as another marketing channel (aka as an after thought). Until it provides some form of necessary utility, the year of mobile will never come to be.

  • geofflivingston

    I think if 2013 is the year of mobile, people will build more wifi hotspots and in-store ways to interact. Bricks, not clicks.

  • http://www.diannahuff.com/ Dianna Huff

    Eric — I disagree with one point — Websites rendering well on phones. Many retail sites still don’t render well on smaller devices, such as a phone. If you’ve ever had to sit in a parking lot and tried to find a store using their “locator” page, you know what I’m talking about. This holds true for enterprise / global B2B sites where trying to find simple contact info can be a little problematic.

    • tomdebaere

      Hi Dianna, these sites must be optimized for mobile, or different screen sizes in general. Just Google for ‘responsive design’… hopefully this adds to this discussion.

      • http://www.diannahuff.com/ Dianna Huff

        Tom — Yes, I know. I was really just saying that not all sites render well on a smart phone and even if they do, it’s still not a good user experience.

        • tomdebaere

          oeps, sorry. Fully agree. Thx.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Dianna, hopefully soon this will be a thing of a past, without needing to download a mobile app for every store just to get locations.

      I, fortunately, don’t run into this issue nearly as often as I used to, but when I do it is painful.

      Thanks, as always, for the comment!

  • http://twitter.com/apvembu apvembu

    Eric,
    It’s clear that human behavior is adapting to the mobile platform. Apple recently reported that of the 40 billion apps that were downloaded 20 billion were from 2012. The end users are telling us that this is a lifestyle change. Great article.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Great addition, thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/chazborn Charles Born

    Forester recently said this was the year Digital marketing became just marketing. This spawned a post on another group and some debate. I agree with your assertion but there are still considerations that need to be thought of for mobile devices – including website rendering, etc that someone else posted. So you can’t purely think of it today as just online marketing. But, your right – the evolution is happening and one day…..we will wake up to a NEW phenomenon.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Hi Charles, I definitely agree, there are specific tactical and technical considerations across many aspects of marketing, including mobile.

      Thanks for adding the Forrester flag here, integration of marketing tactics isn’t just happening in mobile. Thanks Charles!

  • tomdebaere

    Hi,

    I think it’s very much about being where your customers are. More and more they are expecting you to also be on their mobile phone, and provide an access to what you have to offer.

    Some of the services you have offline, or online, should also be brought towards the mobile, exactly for the reasons you describe.

    And for now, this is done through Apps which happen to bring the services or information you have easier towards them on their mobile phone than they would use a browser on their mobile phone.

    To conclude: be where your buyers are, that’s my golden rule ;-)

    Best regards, thanks for this post Eric,

    Tom De Baere

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Tom, I like your golden rule here, and I think it highlights why mobile will be integrated versus a free-standing strategy.

      Thanks for the addition!

  • http://twitter.com/ArtilleryMarket Douglas Burdett

    Eric, stay with me on this one – I see a military history analogy here… In both the Civil War and World War I, the technology of warfare had
    jumped way ahead of the tactics. There’s a similarity to mobile
    marketing now: In 2012 more people bought smartphones than PCs. However,
    the majority of marketers do not have a mobile presence or are using
    mobile tactics. In 2013, the gulf will narrow between consumers’
    widespread use of mobile and marketers adoption of tactics to reach them.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      I’m following with you. And to build on it, the gulf narrows as marketing incorporates the new technological capabilities into the overall marketing strategy.

      Thanks for the addition!

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