SAN FRANCISCO—The message came across loud and clear at the Open Mobile Summit in here Nov. 12-14: mobile has passed the tipping point.
But despite a sharp rise in mobile clout, many marketers are not doing basic things to address it, said Brendon Kraham, a product strategist at Google, during a panel session.
“There needs to be urgency about this,” he said. “We will soon see an inflection where there is more consumer activity on mobile.”
Gokul Rajaram, product engineering lead at payments innovator Square, stressed during the same panel discussion that in his view, an important benefit of mobile is that the channel lets “businesses communicate with consumers before, during and after the sale.” He added that mobile is a tool that allows for creating relationships that involve multiple touch points over time.
Over at Walmart, Gibu Thomas, senior vice president, digital and global ecommerce, said in another presentation that the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer no longer thinks of mobile as a device.
“We believe smartphones have become extensions of their hands for our consumers,” he said.
He elaborated that, according to WalMart’s research, more than half the discounter’s customers have smartphones, and he said that by 2016, smartphone driven mobile commerce will reach a staggering $27 billion.
Add this up, said Tom Bedecarre, chairman of AKQA, a digital innovation company, and mobile is about 365 days of engagement. In a session about marketing for mobile delivery, he said too many marketers see mobile as a vertical silo. What’s required is a horizontal view, where mobile touches everything, he said.
Next Page: Time to Be All In
“It is time to be all in on mobile,” Bedecarre said. “Mobile is a huge, trending monster. If you are not embracing it, you will be left behind.”
Many Open Mobile Summit speakers said the mobile revolution is only in its first stages, as the domination of smartphones and wearable devices increases.
“Mobile is a way for brands to connect with their consumers,” said Steve Weinswig, managing director of R/GA, a digital advertising agency, in a session that addressed mobile advertising. “It all blurs. Are you serving up a product or a service or content?”
There even were words of optimism for Near Field Communication, the one-time favorite to sweep mobile commerce that was shunned by Apple on its iPhones. And, the NFC-powered Isis mobile commerce pilot organized in 2010 by Verzon, AT&T and T-Mobile appeared to have hit a dead end.
The NFC optimism came from Sprint’s chief marketing officer Bill Malloy, in an interview with Credit Union Times.
He did not directly comment on Isis, an initiative from which Sprint was left out, but he said, “I know how many devices we are shipping with NFC. The technology is out there.”
He added that good things are also happening with Google Wallet, an NFC-based m-commerce tool that Sprint makes available on several mobile phones.
A very different point of view was articulated by Mitchell Baker, chairperson of Mozilla Corporation, the developer of the open source browser.
Mobile is coming down to a duel between Apple and Google and the carriers increasingly look to be irrelevant.
“They are becoming commodities,” she said.
Baker said her view is that in the next phase of mobile computing, the web—not apps, but the mobile web—will emerge as a platform. Furthermore, Baker said she thinks the mobile web and apps will merge, probably in the next five years.