Mobile commerce

What’s in a Mobile Device?

1:30 PM -- CHICAGO -- There was an interesting debate brewing at Mobile University, hosted by the Heartland Mobile Council, today in Chicago: What is a mobile device? More specifically, is Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)’s iPad one?

My initial reaction was, um, duh, of course the iPad is a mobile device and, if you’re doing mobile marketing, you’d be wise not to forget that. But, as there usually are in a debate, there was more than one side to this argument.

Here’s how Gary Schwartz, president and CEO of Impact Mobile and Chair of the IAB Mobile Committee, broke it down: Apple is a media company that just happened to decide to go mobile. But, it never optimized its first mobile device, the iPhone, for the wireless network. As AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) knows, it’s a data hog as a result. (See AT&T: Don't Choke Us.)

Similarly, panelists noted that the iPad is a portable, not mobile, data hog -- like a laptop, but not necessarily mobile because you have to sit down to engage with it. [Ed. note: If Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)’s Mobile Internet Device (MID) category actually existed, the iPad would most certainly fit the bill.]

The BlackBerry, on the other hand, was optimized for wireless networks, but it has struggled to address the media side of things. "Optimized" in that case appears to mean “lacking cool apps and services,” but that’s an important thing for marketers to consider.

You might be thinking: Who cares? Whatever you call the iPhone and iPad, they’re immensely important. But the implication for mobile marketers and brands is just as important. Do they focus on the cool media aspects of devices or on interactions that happen natively on the phone, like SMS? Doing both isn’t always an option.

It’s still early days for mobile marketing and advertising, so the debate rages on. What’s your take?

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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