2011 is not the year of mobile

As we all know this time of year is filled with industry predictions of trends for the upcoming year, and as we look back some prophecies are fulfilled, others not so much.

As we all know this time of year is filled with industry predictions of trends for the upcoming year, and as we look back some prophecies are fulfilled, others not so much.

A chart-topper, or at least one that makes an appearance every year is the declaration that “20XX will be the year of mobile.” Anybody with me on declaring a moratorium on the use of that phrase as a prediction?

With the ubiquity of the mobile platform and penetration standing at 95% in the U.S. and 69% globally and the overtaking of fixed Internet by mobile web, declaring that 2011 is the year of mobile is starting to sound as absurd as declaring that 2011 is the year of the Internet. So as we look at the past year in mobile and the upcoming trends, we'll all agree to stay focused on the innovative applications and opportunities to engage consumers rather than on the platform itself.

Let's instead say “2011 is the year of engagement with mobile augmented reality apps” or whatever the prediction may be.

On the subject of noteworthy mobile, despite its apparently low adoption among users, location-based services hold tremendous promise for brands that manage to use them to bring value-added services and incentives. We've now seen some examples of good and bad campaigns in Foursquare and opportunities for Facebook Places.

As the media-worthiness for early adopters is just about over, it will require novel application to capture our attention. Badges for the sake of badges aren't going to cut it. Still, location-based services and the intersection with social commerce provide brands an amazing opportunity to live at the nexus of our online/offline lives.

Chad Latz is president of the global digital practice at Cohn & Wolfe.

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