Mobile Search on the Rise

I just stumbled upon a blog post I wrote a year ago (recreated here in its entirety so you too can appreciate the humor and see how far I’ve come).  Reading it now it’s hard for me to believe that I actually wrote it.  Me, who thought my phone served three basic functions…to call people, text and occasionally check my email.  Me, who didn’t want to be THAT connected to folks 24/7.  I’ve done a complete 180 and have crossed over to the dark side!   My new phone is indeed pink but I upgraded to a BlackBerry and it’s hard to see my home screen with all the app icons you’ll find on my new best friend.  Facebook – because I HAVE to stay connected to 300 of my closest pals at all times, WordPress – so I can blog about it, of course, Citysearch – so I can get the address for the restaurant I’ve been wanting to try, Google maps – so directionally challenged me can find my way home from that restaurant, the weather channel – so I know how to dress for my hot date at that restaurant.  And the list goes on and on.

My power went out last weekend and unable to access my desktop, I turned to my little constant companion.  Sure enough, there was a citywide outage reported by the electric company.  And this news came to me via my phone. That experience reminded me of an article posted by a fellow LinkedIn subscriber stating that mobile searches are catching up with desktop searches. A year ago I wouldn’t have believed that but I’m living proof that you can teach an old dog a new trick. A year ago I wouldn’t have used my cell phone to Google “Illuminating Company power outages.”

As marketers we are missing the boat if we don’t tap into this growing, I-can’t-be-away-from-my-phone-or-I’ll-experience-separation-anxiety crowd.  More and more folks are using their phones to gather news, to connect with social sites, perform searches, redeem coupons and even find a date.  The demand is there.  Are you taking steps to meet it?

Sept. 19, 2008 — I’m going shopping for a new cell phone this weekend.  It’s kind of a big deal for me because, like my cars, I keep my phones until they’re on their last leg.  I’ve been doing a little online previewing and it’s simply amazing to me how far we’ve come.  Once upon a time I worked for one of the major wireless carriers, back in the day when there were only two of them.  My first mobile phone was just that…mobile…as it was installed in my car.  And the portable phones came in bags that you had to carry around and I swear those things weighed 10 lbs!  So yes, I’m blown away by the advances in modern technology and all the amazing things we can do with our little phones these days.

I’m not fancy.  Okay, yes, I carry a Pink Razr and it’s got a rhinestone encrusted cover, but that’s strictly cosmetic   What I mean by that is my phone has three basic functions…I use it to make phone calls, to send text messages and occasionally to check my personal email.  It may have more features I am simply unaware of but it’s served its purpose so I don’t feel like I’ve been missing out on anything.

But when I hit Circuit City this weekend and talk to my friendly Verizon rep I’m sure he’ll tell me all about the wonderful new things phones can do these days, features I simply can’t live without and of course I’ll buy into it and upgrade to a model with more bells and whistles.  Will I use the features?  I suppose with a little education, I think maybe, yes.  Especially if I purchase a phone with the MP3 player built in.  Video.  Local Search.  Mobile coupons.  There’s an awful lot we can do and some days it’s just downright overwhelming.  I still type in complete sentences when texting so I’ll need a little time to wrap my head around all these other very cool features.  Baby steps, baby steps.   

But this brings me to an article I read in Advertising Age.  Not unlike me, it seems most folks simply want to talk on their cell phones.   I’m certainly not denying there has been a healthy shift to mobile.  I know more than one “Crack”berry addict.  The invention of the iPhone is driving more people to watch online videos, surf the web and check their email. I think the younger population is a driving force in the use of some of the newer, fancier applications found on today’s mobile devices. 

But according to the Ad Age survey 3 out of 10 wireless device owners would prefer a small phone with fewer features in the future.  I wonder who these people are?  I’m guessing the older generation, a little reluctant to embrace change, maybe?  But I can’t wait to see what very cool features my next phone will include…and of course it will be pink!

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