1) Smart phones stop getting so much press – Everyone’s talking about how neat smart phones are, how cool all the stuff on the new iPhone is… But if mobile phones had really arrived, no one would be talking about how cool they are. You don’t hear people talking about how neat web pages are, right? When’s the last time you heard someone gush that they just got a real, live e-mail address? When something has arrived, it isn’t news. When people stop talking about “apps,” you’ll know you’d better have one up and running.
2) Standardized mobile analytics – As with web marketing, a few companies will emerge with performance analytics for mobile marketing campaigns. Right now several companies offer something, but no one is really sure yet what they should be monitoring for. SMS codes? Application downloads? Brand mentions on geo-social networks?
When the majority of the population have smart phones, they will decide how they want to use them. When THAT happens, there will be enough sample data to determine what is really important. That certainly hasn’t happened yet. I don’t care how much press FourSquare gets, a minority of people use it.
3) Businesses using apps they didn’t write – Right now everyone thinks the best way to get on board with mobile marketing is to create an iPhone app. But did Dell and Zappos and Ashton Kutcher invent their own micro blogging service in order to promote themselves? No. They used the one that was already built. Mobile phones will also host apps that are useful to businesses, which they will then use in their own promotional strategy.
On my G1 right now, I have a program that scans grocery store membership cards, (those things that hang on your keychain,) and stores them for you. This means instead of having to haul around all those cards, I simply have the register scan my phone’s screen. It would be far easier for grocery stores to steer their patrons towards this application then it is for them to write one that does the same thing.
4) VoiP replacing cell carrier plans – There’s been a lot in the trades about Google Voice and Skype applications, and how cell phone manufacturers won’t allow some of them on their products. This is because carriers know their days are numbered. Today’s phones can transmit data just as easily as voice services, and apparently much cheaper. Why would anyone pay for a voice plan when their handset can perform the same function as data?
5) The Mobile Technology Bubble – Since everyone has been able to see the rise and rise of mobile phones for years now, many are jockeying for investment opportunities in the emerging companies. So far it’s all been Apple, Google, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile. But as new VoiP networks emerge, people are going to want to get in on the ground floor with these new companies. After all, 12 years ago, nobody knew what T-Mobile was. The investors who had the foresight to get in early now have enough money to buy the Moon and gift wrap it.
6) Cheaper Phones – This is just a fact of manufacturing consumer goods. The more you make of them, the more innovations you come up with to make them less expensive. When that happens – probably in about four years – then everyone will have them, and all of these promises of smart phones will really come true. Think about the first commercial cell phones: They were bulky and wildly expensive. Ten years later everyone could have one, so it became much less of a status symbol and much more of a necessity.