Two weeks ago I returned from attending CTIA Wireless2010, which is one of the world’s largest tradeshows and conferences focused on wireless and mobile products, technologies and solutions. I’ve been attending this show since the early 90’s, but this year’s show was measurably different from that of prior years. This year there seemed to be a universal acknowledgement that things are rapidly changing and that the coming wireless/mobile landscape is going to be radically different from anything we’ve known to date. What’s the big change? Simply put: Data.
Since the inception of cellular industry, the entire mobile ecosystem has been built around supporting voice services. Data has been an afterthought… an add-on if you will. But now the accelerating adoption of super-sophisticated smartphones (e.g. iPhone and Android phones) and their supporting ecosystems are producing a level of user engagement that is changing the way people relate to their devices and the content delivered thereon.
It’s been common of late for the press to recount stories of how heavy iPhone usage has placed inordinate demands on AT&T’s networks. In fact, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal recounted a story whereby AT&T executives made a trek to Cupertino to share with Steve Jobs their commitment to increase the capacity of their network. With this as the background, many at CTIA were espousing a future wireless model in which supporting data usage becomes the focal point. In fact, during several of the keynote speeches, data services consumed the lion’s share of the discussion.
So what does it mean to be living in a data-centric world as opposed to a voice-centric world? It means that things will be changing. Mobile marketing will be changing, mobile content will be changing, devices will be changing, billing models will be changing….. on and on it goes. As a result of this change, a recurrent theme from many of the panel sessions was “uncertainty.” The old models and paradigms of the past are starting to evaporate and are being rapidly replaced by models that few, if any, could have ever anticipated emerging so quickly, e.g. models in which billions of applications are downloaded annually, models in which networks are chocked by data usage, models in which the convergence of broadband data services, GPS services, touch screen mobile phones, multimedia interactive content, social media and commerce all converge to change people’s lives.
What does all of this change mean to digital signage and place based advertising? It means that mobility will be both a complement and competitor in ways that were unimaginable three years ago. Rest assured though, you keep reading this blog, and I’ll do my best to keep you up to date on the changes.