If you are like me, you actually managed to live a good part of your life without the benefit of a cell or smart phone, yet, looking back, you have a hard time imagining how you managed to do so. The ability to have constant communications ability and full access to voice and email seems like a requirement, not just a nice to have. It is hard to believe that we did not have access to this service in the old days when stuck in traffic or late to important appointments.
But as I write this, I realize that most people are still unaware of the full range of possibilities of mobile technology. As the thousands of I-Phone applications attest to, the appetite for mobile services is out there and there are many companies eager to exploit this. And, of course, the social media world is right there capitalizing on this and providing tools for folks to interact. Have you joined Four Square Yet? I have. And recently when I went to Yankee Stadium I was one of 56 people who checked in. Given the size of Yankee Stadium this is not that great a number. But watch this space. The future will be upon on us sooner than we think!
Everyday there are new and exciting applications for mobile technologies. AT&T recently ran a contest on Gowalla co-sponsored by TOMS shoes which required folks to check in at an AT&T outlet or a TOMS shoe outlet. Over 5500 folks entered to win the grand prize. SCVNGR is a location-based social game that launched in 2010. At the time of launch it had already signed over 1,000 locations in the US who were willing to offer freebies and discounts to users. And they are growing rapidly, adding about 25 new enterprises per day. Recently SCVNGR teamed up with Columbia Pictures to have a EAT,PRAY, LOVE game tied in with the movie. This game spanned 26 cities and provided both challenges and special edition badges.
Another location based platform, Whrrl boasts of over 300,000 users. Whrrl has a somewhat different model, focusing on Societies and creating content devoted to these specific groups. Businesses can create Societies and target certain types of individuals that check in to particular types of venues. This is a very effective way to segment an audience and reach folks where they live!
As someone who remembers that much of the early content of the Internet were games, chat rooms and yes, pornography, it is not surprising that the early entrants in the mobile space are in the business to consumer world and have a large element of fun connect to them. But, as we saw with the Internet, the potential for business ties-ins is huge and will continue to emerge. If your business is not considering this space, they should be. Because 10 years from now, I would not be surprised if many businesses felt the same way about mobile that I feel about my smart phone. How did we ever get by without this?!