As one of the Old Men Of Mobile, I occasionally look back on my old stuff and laugh about the Good Old Days Of Mobile.
Back in 1999 we were pretty much all SMS warriors, doing anything to get a campaign off the ground and a few pounds in the door.
But it wasn’t until 2008 that brands and agencies became interested enough to want to know more, and that’s when I started being asked to run courses on mobile, something which I still do today.
Digging out this material from 2008-9 is interesting – sometimes I allow myself to marvel at my own prescience, but equally often, it’s to think that something so obvious now was like nuclear physics back then.
So I’m going to run an occasional series of ‘classic mobile slides’ which many mobile veterans may remember, or will have at some point made their own versions.
Here’s a fun example of me trying to define and explain the role of the OS in mobile – to a room full of people who have never used a smartphone.
The narrative around this one was “Really the device is becoming almost irrelevant to the consumer’s experience – sure you still need a nice device, but really it’s just a sexy shiny wrapper for the stuff that comes inside. Therefore the phone experience that you have is around 90% due to the OS”
“People don’t want to be kept inside the operator walled garden – they want to use the device (mostly software) to reach the stuff they love, and they’ll find any way to do it”
This slide really presages the downfall of both the mobile carriers and the legacy handset manufacturers as the true owners of the mobile experience, surrendering their role to Apple, and mostly to Google. It was really soon after this that Motorola, Nokia et al started the nosedive from which they never recovered. The rise of the OS as the determining factor in mobile choice started here.
But more importantly, with hindsight I can now see that this is really where mobile marketing, for me, stopped being a worthwhile specialism. The smartphone enabled the consumer to simply do the same things in digital on their phone that they were already used to doing on desktop, and therefore the fact that you were doing it on mobile meant very little, beyond a few obvious design and technical factors.
The real juice in marketing strategy is in figuring out what it is that you want people to do, see or think. And how you reproduce that across different channels such as mobile is, (or should be) just execution. More on this at a later date…