Week three – Mobile Communications: Developments & Challenges

17 Feb

The technology of mobile phones has developed greatly, especially over the past 10-15 years. With 1G (first generation) phones, which was the development of wireless telephone technology was developed and introduced to the west from Japan in the 1980’s. Second Generation (2G) phones where introduced in the 1990’s, 3G in 2003 and 4G in 2007. Today most people I know at least use a 4G phone, they are becoming the ‘norm’ within the mobile sector, their advantages are great, and some include:

–          The speed at which you can receive data (such as emails) direct to your mobile phone

–          Mobile internet – Access to the World Wide Web through the mobile device

–          The ability to send images, videos and audio messages through MMS

The integration of this new mobile technology has altered the way society go about their day-to-day life. Now mobiles are inherently part of our daily lives, they are the first things we engage with in the morning (turning off your alarm) and the last thing at night – checking for emails and messages. Where would we be without them? As they are such a crucial part of our life, surely this would be the perfect opportunity for marketers to reach consumers on a personal level – engaging with us anytime of the day, where ever you are?

But while all these mobile technological developments are changing our daily lives, there are many people, cultures and countries around the world that are not involved in this huge digital madness on mobiles, this is causing a ‘digital divide’ between people, cultures and countries.

Stump (et al, 2008) researched into exactly this – the digital divide, concentrating on mobile phones and the adoption levels across countries and demographics. He found that different countries, as well as different demographics (such as age) had a huge variation on adoption-levels to using mobile phones.

Over the past 10 or so years the adoptions levels of people over the globe has increased greatly. In the UK alone there are 48million mobile phones, in comparison to 35million PC’s – so we can see that the use of WWW on the mobile device is extensively popular. However although the adoption levels are extremely high, and have been growing in the UK this is not the case across the world. This may be due to a number of factors, some mentioned by Stump in his study:

–          Age

–          Education

–          Wealth

–          Socioeconomic

–          Political

–          Cultural

–          Technological

These are the main factors that Stump recognises are the influences in mobile adoption levels – however not much research has been completed in all of these areas. I believe that when such counties as Iraq start to build up their economy as the war is nearing an end, for the majority of the nation, a 3G mobile will be the first phone they have ever owned. This will be a big culture shock for them as going from the lack of digital technology and thrown into the thick of it – research could be done on how this will affect their culture and development – will it be positive or negative?

Within the Western world such factors as age, wealth or education may affect individuals adopting the use of mobiles, for example the older generation are less likely to use mobile phones as they have not grown up. Also the wealth factor is crucial here, even though western countries generally lower unemployment rates – however this is still very relevant, even in the UK. As smartphones are very expensive these days with the choice and technology available, this instantly

Mobile marketing developments:

–          QR codes

–          Apps

–          SMS/MMS messages to data base

–          WWW coupon usage – eg: McDonalds

Originally my thinking was that Europe was on top of the digital wave, including the mobile developments; however after having a guest lecture from Matt Findel-Hawkins – a mobile-marketing specialist in Japan. This made me realise just how much far advanced Japan is within the use of mobile phones on a consumer and marketing level.

However over the past 6 months marketers within the UK have begun to introduce more creative digital platforms to promote their products to consumers. In particular the use of QR codes has begun to rise. Rohit mentions that Japan have adopted the QR codes for a number of years now on: products, posters, billboards, TV ads and magazine ads. Reportedly now Pepsi have decided to bring this idea to the UK on the back of their cans. The idea is that consumers will scan the code with their mobile and it will direct them to a microsite dedicated to Pepsi.

As this has not been used much within the UK marketers are uneasy to adopt this vastly across Europe. However I believe that as the Code will be on the back of the can, and usually when consumers have packaging in their possession they read the back – maybe out of boredom or out of interest…so maybe this will be a good move for Pepsi – however maybe if QR codes are presented on a TV magazine advert – the engagement may not be as high as their prerogative is not within that brand – it lays with the media, e.g.: reading the magazine or watching the TV – whereas on the back of a branded good the consumer has already made the brand choice so would be more passive to finding out more about that brand.

Costa has also used a similar QR code promotion, by sending SMS message’s to a database they hold of Costa customers – giving them a discount. However I feel that marketers with the Europe will adopt mobile marketing it its extreme as the number of smartphones are increasing continually – but we need to ensure that  it isn’t taken to the extreme as it could back fire and annoy and pester consumers to much – as mobiles are seen as a personal space for the consumer.



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