I'm in New York this week, taking a little break and observing the "average New Yorker" to see how they interact with technology. Now, it's obvious that the "average New Yorker" is not your average consumer, but they are certainly indicative of where things are headed. We all know the Internet affects our everyday lives, but I like to see how and where there are opportunities for further entrenchment by witnessing how some people, specifically the technologically advanced, are already doing so.
My observations thus far center on three devices: the cell phone, the PDA, and the iPod. A distant fourth opportunistic device is the Sony PSP, which is starting to make its way into everyday life slowly, but surely.
The cell phone is the central opportunity. There must be close to 100 percent penetration for cell phones in this market and it's not atypical to see them attached to someone's ear, either with a handset or a wireless headset. As everyone uses them to stay in touch, and text messaging is becoming even more pervasive. What's very surprising to me is how little people are using the latest and greatest SMS search technology. Both Yahoo! and Google have launched SMS text messaging search and they rock! For example, I needed to find a restaurant where I was meeting a friend, so I typed in the name of the restaurant and the ZIP code for an area of New York City to "92466" (the number equivalent of Yahoo!), and within five seconds I had a response that showed me the name of the restaurant, the address, the phone number, and the cross streets. It allowed me to easily access information on the fly, which is what every busy New Yorker wants. This is the best example of a digital mobile world.
The PDA is another opportunity that is seemingly overlooked, though as the proliferation of smart phones increases the opportunity, the opportunity for isolated PDAs certainly declines. The PDA has high penetration in the young urban professional market and products like Vindigo are omnipresent with this audience. They once again provide information on the go to a networked audience, which makes navigating the city easier and more efficient. Remember back in the day when you actually had to know where you were going before you left the house? These tools make the world friendlier to the "impulse decision" and allow the user flexibility to change their schedule and optimize the time they have in the day.
The iPod is almost as omnipresent as the cell phone in a city like New York, providing every individual with a personal soundtrack for their lives. The little white earphones extend down everyone's neckline and represent an opportunity for when the iPod becomes a networked gadget. They have moved to a fourth-generation of color iPods, and the obvious next stage is to network enable them. To offer the opportunity for the user to purchase music and download it wirelessly, from any location at any time, is a dream for the music industry. The iTunes service already feeds into my personal impulse buying mentality, but by placing that opportunity remotely anywhere I may be, the possibilities become endless.
And then there is the PSP. I recently won a PSP and have been playing with it on every trip and every travel opportunity. There was a recent article where a student, utilizing one of the games already designed for the PSP, hacked the ability to turn the PSP into an elementary Web browser. For those of you who don't know, it's already capable of networking between handheld devices, so making it wireless seems like a no-brainer. The software is, as mentioned, elementary, so don't expect to be surfing at high speeds and on robust sites. But, for searching on Google or Yahoo! and acquiring information, it's more than adequate. Stage two of this device must include wireless connectivity with the Web, right?
The digital mobile world is all about accessing information and navigating content from wherever you may be, at any time. More tools arrive every day, which is only outpaced by the amount of information there is to process. As a marketer, you need to understand this context in order to provide a pathway between your consumer and the product which is being advertised. I encourage you to check out these, and every other device that is being launched, to see how this impacts your marketing efforts.
Don't you agree? What else are you seeing as signs of the future for the digital mobile world?