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What’s in a Mobile Device?

Sarah Thomas
4/28/2010

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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shygye75
shygye75
12/5/2012 | 4:38:04 PM
re: What’s in a Mobile Device?
Wow -- sounds like the curriculum at Mobile U. is a bit off. Networks will have to accommodate what users want, rather than the other way around. Mobile operators will see bigger traffic volumes because of devices like the iPad. The good ones will figure out how to turn that into the advantage that it appears to be.
sarahthomas1011
sarahthomas1011
12/5/2012 | 4:38:02 PM
re: What’s in a Mobile Device?


Agreed. I'm less concerned about the difference between "mobile" and "portable," and more about what the device can do. Marketers seem to be focusing most of their efforts on SMS today, which could be where the hang up is. The iPad will only make mobile (portable) advertising and marketing MORE interesting, I think.

kaps
kaps
12/5/2012 | 4:38:02 PM
re: What’s in a Mobile Device?


What's not mobile about using an iPad while sitting on a train? Did none of the professors take the El into this vaunted conference?


Just because you're sitting doesn't mean you ain't mobile. I doubt any marketers will be taking their leads from this brain trust.

kaps
kaps
12/5/2012 | 4:38:02 PM
re: What’s in a Mobile Device?


What's not mobile about using an iPad while sitting on a train? Did none of the professors take the El into this vaunted conference?


Just because you're sitting doesn't mean you ain't mobile. I doubt any marketers will be taking their leads from this brain trust.

shygye75
shygye75
12/5/2012 | 4:38:01 PM
re: What’s in a Mobile Device?
SMS is the place to start -- but it's only the beginning.
sarahthomas1011
sarahthomas1011
12/5/2012 | 4:38:01 PM
re: What’s in a Mobile Device?


The good ones should also find a way to get a piece of the mobile advertising movement. SMS might be their best (only?) option there.

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