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Two topics to watch-let the fun begin!

January 12, 2010

There are a couple of mobile industry topics I’m going to keep an eye on in 2010. I won’t offer any predictions about either of them nor am I going to offer any projections about Ruxter’s chosen industry segment of mobile marketing and mobile websites. I think it’s safe to say that mobile offers an unparalleled marketing opportunity and that the need for a mobile optimized website is driven by the mobile consumptive experience.

The first topic I’ll be keeping an eye on is the health of the app market. When Sprint launched downloadable applications from its mobile store in 2003 sales were phenomenal. However, as time wore on, the developers themselves suffered, especially those whose sole sources of revenue came from mobile. An example of a content provider who could weather the ups and downs of the app market was Namco who derived a huge majority of profits from their non-mobile business. On the flip side were companies like Glu Mobile who continue to lose money and talent to this day.

Moreover, I am sure I am not alone on noticing the similarities between the mobile app market and the music business. Both are a hit driven business where awareness is vital. Often, you are only as good as your last hit and without hits you will suffer. I’m not saying Apple is bad for setting this similarity in motion. On the contrary, without them the music business and the app business would be in a sorry state.

It’s also interesting to me that some pundits in the mobile industry will not promote the need for an optimized mobile website and then will tell you that you need an app. I wager that more than half of the apps out there would be better off as mobile websites. Scale is so much easier to achieve with a mobile website. I can’t imagine having more than 300,000 app titles in the catalog. That’s a long, long tail and leads to pressure on awareness. In this situation you’re better off not having an app and getting a Ruxter site and doing browser detection and splitting your inbound internet traffic so at least your mobile visitors see something from you.

The second topic I will keep an eye on is the growing talk about metered data pricing on wireless networks. I sincerely hope this doesn’t happen because I feel it would be a step back for the industry and that it would create more confusion in an industry which needs simplicity. Again, we created Ruxter to give anyone the ability to create a free mobile-optimized website and to share it with anyone they want. Ruxter sites are fast to load because they are small in KBs and are tailored for the mobile user who is on-the-go. We solve awareness by the use of your chosen keyword being texted to a short code so folks can opt-in to messages from your Ruxter site.

Compression technologies can help the situation and so can better management of always-on connections like email, which place tremendous strain on wireless networks from the constant back-and-forth between the email client and the server. Carrier promotion of the creation of mobile-optimized websites is another way to help the strain while at the same time helping to improve the satisfaction with the mobile internet.

In the end, I’m not sure where these issues to watch will net out. There will no doubt be some app developers who become the Right Said Fred of our generation and fade into the ether. I don’t suspect app stores are going away soon and they would be better off helping on the awareness front by giving the developers a deep link to their title so they can bear some of the awareness burden by aiming customers at their title(s). On the data-metering front, it will be interesting to watch how the current talk nets out against faster networks and the highly competitive nature of the mobile industry.

No predictions on either-just some nachos, a Coke Zero and a 50-yard line seat. Let the fun begin.

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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