Five Forms of Mobile Media

Google and the Nexus S
Image by Paul Swansen

Watching App Savvy Author (and personal friend) Ken Yarmosh speak, clarity in mobile communications becomes clear. He helps you see the primary communications forms on the medium clearly and concisely. Specifically, Ken talks about the three primary communication methods via mobile web development. There are additional tools that provide communications on top of the big three, similar to social networks that function within the larger world wide web.

From a communicators perspective, there are several ways to approach stakeholders on mobile media. Here are the five forms that most marketers use or experiment with today.

Primary Communication Methods

1) Short Messaging Service (SMS): Second generation or 2G digital cellular networks (PCS) enabled SMS, which was the death of pagers in the 90s. Twenty years later the technology is still going strong. Today, as a communication method, people love texting each other! Texting is also the primary form of donations on mobile platforms (thanks to Apple’s Machiavellian attitude about mobile app donations). Marketing via text message is not the easiest activity. People view their mobile numbers as more private than email, but if you can garner permission, this can be a powerful contact method.

2) Native Mobile Web Use: Once the domain of such protocols as the Wireless Access Protocol, native web use is still the most dominant form of mobile Internet media. HTML 5 and easy plug-ins like WPTouch make for highly accessible mobile media. Recent Pew studies show that of the 47% of Americans who read news on their mobile phones, only one in ten use apps. Another neat statistic, 40% of all Google Maps page views occur on mobile phones. Long live the mobile page view.

3) Applications: iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows… You name the OS, it’s hard to imagine that an application hasn’t been developed yet. Plus there is the whole tablet market. As Ken informed me, the applications marketplace is not the same as the smartphone market. iPhone applications are still very dominant with Android applications lagging behind in adoption rates. We’ll see if that changes with continued market domination by Android. From there, you move towards Blackberry and then MAYBE Windows 7.

This is a great way to offer a unique user experience, but please make sure it actually serves stakeholders. Marketing centric applications rarely take off. Also, it’s important to note that each application has its own development costs. Converting from iPhone to Android to Blackberry also requires separate development costs for program language coding.

Another Layer

4) Geolocation Applications: Taking advantage of the GPS enabled smartphones, geolocation networks have been the holy grail for many networks. Whether its review services like Yelp or the big geosocial plays like Gowalla, place and data are the big connections points. Coupons, gamification and integrated social networking posting have been the primary activities to date. Widespread hype has not led to mass market adoption.

5) Mobile Social: While some of the geolocation networks are social, their interactions have been primary transactional in nature. Great social networks empower relationships between people, and mobile is no different. New group texting applications like Group.Me and traditional social networks like Twitter and Facebook with their mobile applications are the leaders here. Communicating in these applications is primarily limited to participation, and posting content and outband native web links. Increasing social function in geolocation networks may become a force to be reckoned with here.

Which forms of mobile media do you like, and why?

9 thoughts on “Five Forms of Mobile Media

  1. I know it was only mentioned briefly but the group texting is becoming the primary way I communicate with my friends. We use Beluga and it is great. Wanna see if anyone is free for lunch or dinner? Send out what we call a “squirt” and see who responds! (Beluga’s icon is a whale squirting water out of it’s spout so we came up with a distinction from “text me” “email me” or “tweet me”)

  2. Each of these forms have different uses in business and marketing. When people think of text they often think of marketing messages but another great use for text messaging is customer support.

    Text based customer support has a number of advantages including increasing customer satisfaction as well as reducing support costs.

    • I imagine use will differ by organization to some extent, just like a blog is a blog is a blog, but none of them are the same. Good point.

  3. Near Field Communication and Augmented Reality both have the potential to impact mobile communications near term. Also, the data collected from the use of mobile devices hasn’t been fully explored to date.

    • Oh, most definitely. I’d LOVE to get my hands on some real hard core mobile use data. Can’t wait to see how augmented reality develops. Thank you for commenting!

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