"No you need a vacation. You just want me to give you one and have me and my credit card tag along in case we're needed."
"See, he's cranky." She appeals to my partner. "You two need a vacation."
"This is what I am saying," my better half chimes in. She has been waiting all summer for this discussion about the absence of a vacation. "See how snippy he is."
"Knock it off or I will write about both of you in the next column."
"Fine," my daughter replies. "And don't forget to tell them what a crank you are because you spent all summer down in that cave of yours writing about media and programming conferences where other people talk even more about media. Haven't you people figured this out yet?"
Consider it done. They have been told. Since I now have been sworn to a new resolution that summers must include a vacation, let's spread the joy around. If I have to make resolutions to change, then so does everyone else, dammit. The one thing I have learned after all of these months here in "the cave" surrounded by cell phones is that more work needs to be done. How about some resolutions in the mobile marketing industry to make our 2010 better than 2009? To wit:
Provide real mobile search results. I have been whining about this all year, but I still find it maddening that the major engines aren't floating mobile-friendly sites to the top of the search results. Hell, for much of the year Google "mobile" searches were presenting me with the same results page as their Web searches. The search experience will be better on mobile when the search experience is, well, mobile.
Stop kicking me out of apps and into browsers. The entire mobile app experience is undermined when a developer can't keep the ad experience contained within the original application. Ads are less intrusive when the user can see clearly she can back out of them. The NYTimes apps are still one of the best examples. The new ad units in that app from Medialets are full-screen takeovers, but they take place in the confines of the news brand.
Banish the landing pages that tell me to "sign up at the Web site." No joke. I keep running into half-heartedly mobile ad experiences that won't let me register with a brand or complete an action in the mobile space itself.
Improve the app store experiences. The early thrill of the mobile application model is waning and some of the same problems of discovery and limited choice that plagued the decks for years are now apparent in the stores. Palm Pre really needs apps. It is just sad in there. Android, you need a decent online catalog. The on-deck store is cluttered with bikini wallpapers and meaningless sound boards and the online store is not flexible or complete. BlackBerry has all of its App World applications nicely indexed on the Web site. Let's make this a model.
And while I am at it -- iTunes needs to grow up. In the music library I actually like the Genius recommendations for similar tunes, and it has been responsible for my buying tons of single tracks. But we need a stronger recommendation engine in the App Store to surface truly relevant programs.
Banish the Michael Jackson text alerts. Nothing involving the late singer is "breaking news" anymore. Sending subscribers an SMS alert about the latest rumor about a coroner's report abuses the privilege.
Nintendo, please come to my phone? This may be my last annual plea for Nintendo to bring some of its brilliant portable game design sense to phones. This week the company released its Professor Layton and Diabolical Box, another brilliant mobile media experience. While the iPhone and the applications model have led to a gratifying flowering of fun mobile gaming (finally), it is good to remember that one company mastered the portable game years ago...but they seem uninterested in mobile. One more time, Nintendo. The window of opportunity to make a splash here is closing -- but whenever you are ready to bring Warioware, Zelda or the Mario RPGs here, feel free. And bring that back catalog of Final Fantasy games with you.
2D Codes. Somebody make this work? I know I will take it in the knees (again) from all of you 2D code vendors out there who think your own fugly code will remake mobile marketing. I have no idea how many codes are now in the field, let alone how to distinguish one from another. The bottom line is that so long as users have to download a discrete program to make someone else's marketing program work, then this platform is for mobile geeks only. The promise is great; the hurdles are obvious. Speaking of which... .
A seamless mobile couponing experience. It is hard to imagine a marketing platform with so much promise that needs so much work on all of its levels. The front-end experience of getting coupons is haphazard. None of the aggregators has established enough direct partnerships with retailers to attract much consumer interest, and there are too many companies just scraping Web coupons that are barely visible on a phone. At the point-of-sale too many stores clerks are clueless when faced with a mobile coupon. But when this fractured system finally comes together, there is no doubt in my mind that a gusher of innovation and marketing dollars will be in there somewhere. It just makes too much good sense.
A moratorium on "is this the year of mobile?" Spare us this shallow attempt to take the temperature of a mobile marketing segment that continues to evolve slower than hoped. Don't ask questions for which the answer would be meaningless. Mobile marketing is going to be a prolonged evolution of platforms, experimentation and marketers feeling their way toward a proper strategy for their brands.
Even if there were a "year of mobile," we'll only know after it happens.