Mobile technology to go big in 2011

Mobile is now mainstream, says the popular website in its special section on trends for 2011.

Mobile technology has come into its own over the past few years, emerging from being a new technology to a mature one, with mobile websites (mobisites) and mobile communication being seen as mainstream channels to communicate with people, says Eddie Groenewald, CEO of mobile marketing company Multimedia Solutions (

These are some of the applications for mobile technology already in use in many parts of the world:

Mobile statements – Instead of delivering statements via email or post, many companies have begun sending statements via MMS. This is cheaper than posting statements and more direct than email, which often gets blocked by corporate firewalls or ignored by users.

Advanced mobile statements This allows all sorts of information about the company to be included with the statement – in a similar way to how physical statements included brochures, but they are far more cost-effective and the uptake in readership is far higher.

Mobisites These are useful for users on the, go as they load quicker and provide faster access to information from a mobile phone. Some people might have expected mobisites to fade away as smartphone browsers improved, but their usability and easy access to information have made them extremely successful.

Media companies across the world have adopted mobisites and locally we’ve not only seen the media companies do the same but retailers, ticketing companies, entertainment companies and more are following suit.

In an African context, the cost of browsing on a mobile website is so much cheaper and faster than browsing a traditional website on a mobile phone, making mobisites an attractive alternative for people in lower LSM brackets to browse on.

MMS – Companies are increasingly using MMS to drive traffic directly to their mobisites. This provides a key indicator for the success of campaigns because companies can now track how many people followed the call to action from the MMS and visited the mobisite via the mobile phone number.

Smartphone apps – Last year saw the introduction of the iPhone 4 and a number of handset manufacturers releasing Android-based devices. The iPhone app store, together with the Android market, opened people’s eyes to downloadable applications for their phones.

App downloads will increase this year, with more people using mobile apps and with a greater degree of services delivered to people through them. Many companies will add mobile apps to their traditional websites and mobisites as a way to communicate with people.

Social media – Facebook now has over 500 million active users globally or around 25% of the people on the Internet in total. 200 million people (40 % of Facebook users) actively use Facebook from their mobile phones or around 10% of the world’s population, according to the company. In SA, Facebook estimates there are 3.35 million users. If the 40% ratio applies (although it is likely higher) that is 1.34 million active Facebook mobile users in SA.

Companies are increasingly looking to spread content from their mobisites through social media channels in order to increase readership and awareness.

Database – One of the key things about knowing who people are and where they are situated is that messaging can be more specific in a mobile context. Databases can then be segmented via province or even cities and towns to send out mobile messaging based on where people are to direct them to local branches, as opposed to giving out a national call centre number, for example.

All about content – With so many people accessing mobisites, the demand for content becomes critical. More people are on the mobile web for longer and they crave new content to read, apps to download, music to listen to, etc. Mobisites will need to be updated regularly to keep people coming back for more.

Connect, connect – The power of mobile lies in the fact that it is viral and it’s interactive. Most people’s phones are within reach 24/7 and as soon as that phone rings it receives the person’s attention. The mobile phone therefore provides a captivate audience to connect with and companies need to carefully use this fact to build a sustainable relationship with their customer bases.

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