Friday, October 9, 2009

Mobile is the New Mass Medium

Mobile connected devices clearly are the universal screen of choice – and not just because of this week’s big news that Dell will brand its first smart phone, Verizon Wireless will offer customers Google’s Android operating system and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile apps will be loaded into 30 new smart phones by year’s end.

While tech and telecom giants slug it out on the retail front, the real story is consumers’ 24/7 love affair with wireless mobile devices.

Nearly half of all Americans admit to sleeping with their mobile phones and four in ten admit they “can’t live” without them, according to a survey by Synovate, a global marketing and research firm. Worldwide, the June survey of 8,000 mobile phone users in 11 global markets found that smart phones and other mobile devices are becoming consumers’ universal “remote control for life.” For instance:

  • Three-fourths of global survey respondents — including 82 percent of Americans — never leave home without their phone.
  • One fourth of respondents across 11 markets own more than two mobile phones. One third of Americans most likely own at least two mobile phones and at least 20 percent own a smart phone.
  • The most popular activities on mobile devices — aside from ubiquitous voice calls and texting — are the alarm clock, the camera and games. Americans generally concede they don’t know how to use other features on their mobile phones.
  • U.S. and U.K. 3G access is exploding because of increased Internet browsing and social networking.
  • Text messaging, now as important as voice calling, is changing the way people manage their relationships (from flirting to lying to breaking up). In fact a U.S. study by AT&T Wireless earlier this year determined that texting plays a significant role in romance.
The down side of this infatuation is consumers’ insistence on texting and talking on their mobile devices while driving. The problem has become so acute — and lethal — that the Senate is working to pass legislation that would ban texting while driving. President Obama last week signed an executive order prohibiting federal employees from texting while driving.

Although the latest Virginia Tech survey found that texting drivers are 23 percent more likely to be involved in a collision, many consumers admit they just can’t help themselves. Unrelenting texters — most especially teens — are being targeted with a persuasive if not frightening YouTube video as well as a free mobile video game designed to demonstrate the often deadly results.

Evidence of the mobile craze is everywhere. Pew’s Internet & American Life Project reports that 70 percent of Americans use their hand held mobile devices for non-voice data applications and one-third use them to access the Internet.

The number of Americans using mobile devices to access news and other information doubled from 2008 to 22.4 million as enterprise workers perform functions on mobile devices that were formerly reserved for laptops, according to comScore. A survey of 300 Bostonians conducted for Samsung reveals that one-third would rather forgo sex for an entire year than give up their cell phones for that amount of time.

This all adds up to plenty of new opportunities for tech and media companies to join forces to provide more hands-free as well as overall mobile interactive apps and programs for just about anything that tickles a consumer’s fancy. Mobile is the new mass medium.
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