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Out with the old and in with the new

December 28, 2009

Contradictions always catch my eye especially if they are from a single person or news source. I found one last week and it wasn’t from the same source but it was about the same company and this company has a big brand-Yahoo.

Maybe you saw it too. Nielsen reports that Yahoo was the top mobile brand accessed on mobile phones in 2009 followed by Google. Then, in the Morgan Stanley 424 page Mobile Internet Report, Yahoo’s future in mobile is listed in the lowest category of “Unclear”.

So there it is-a top brand with an unclear future in a nascent market with a growth trajectory like a Saturn IV rocket.

First of all, and not like it’s any kind of salvation for Yahoo but…..they ain’t alone. How many times have you seen Microsoft is dead when someone talks about their mobile future?

This kind of scenario is what makes some C-level folks go bonkers and for others it makes titans out of them. So, any of you C-level folks reaching for the mood enhancers please take heart and follow these simple rules.

1. Throw out what you know. Don’t try to make your mobile presence just delivering your PC presence to a mobile phone. Start from a clean slate without the baggage of legacy competencies and business models. You have to remember there is a growing cohort out there who don’t use email for personal purposes and they rely on Facebook more than Google. I think we all know that some big internet brands won’t be big in 5 years. Alta Vista? Lycos? The list goes on and on.

2. Don’t fall for the “wouldn’t it be cool if” model. Solve a need of a mobile user before you fall into this geek-riddled trap.  I remember sitting through a presentation by a very bright young man once telling me how inference engines were going to basically rule and change the world. Granted, it’s kind of cool that Amazon knows what I’ve bought and that it points out things I might be interested in but it’s not life changing. Moreover, supporting “cool” on mobile phones means addressing only part of the market or writing for 8 mobile OS. Yikes. Where’s the money in that?

3. Start simple and go from there. Less than 1% of you have mobile sites that will render on a mobile phone. Get a mobile site that will render no matter now simple you may feel it is. Don’t lose a lead, don’t lose a sale and please don’t frustrate your mobile visitor. Stats show they won’t come back if your site won’t render quickly. Once you have a presence on any mobile phone you can experiment with what works and get feedback from your users. You will pat yourself on the back for taking this approach because you are learning and preparing for the not-so-distant future when more folks visit you on their mobile than on a PC. Do you want to learn it all then when it suddenly dawns on you?

I’ll even go one step further-if any of you want any counsel on the mobile internet and the transformation we are about to go through, please email me. I want to help dramatically raise the levels of satisfaction with the mobile web. For sure, Ruxter’s already here to help you get started but seriously, if I can help in any way let me know.

Dale Knoop is the President of Ruxter, a mobile multimedia patents holder and an industry-recognized pioneer of mobile data services. In 2005 Dale won an Emmy while serving as the GM for Sprint TV. In August 2009 he launched Ruxter which allows anyone to quickly and easily become part of the rapidly growing mobile internet with a free, fully optimized mobile website they can share with anyone. You can contact him here. Follow Ruxter on Twitter.

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