Quick, what do you do with a phone? Only a decade and a half ago, the obvious answer would have been “You make phone calls.” Now, things aren’t quite so simple. Maybe a better question would be, what don’t you do with a phone? What once consisted of operators, cords, and (snicker) busy signals has now become a wireless connection to the entire world.
People use their phones for everything from fitness to entertainment, and from surfing the web all the way to—occasionally—calling each other. So it’s no wonder that enterprising individuals have been seeing these new advances as possible commercial tools. Here are three ways that mobile devices are—and soon will—be used for business.
1. Direct Custom Marketing
This isn’t most people’s favorite. You’re surfing the web, just trying to see how well your fantasy baseball team is doing, when an ad pops up directly over what you were in the process of reading. Your eyes wig out for a second and then involuntarily readjust to read the advertisement: Authentic Pro Jerseys! That’s bad enough, but then you leave the site and check the news. Bam! Another ad for something baseball related.
You see, internet advertisers collect search information and then use it to create custom ad content just for you. If you have a problem with that, you’re not going to like where it’s headed. Because the same technology that is used for internet custom ads could also be put into special service with your mobile device. Advertisers could track not only your online searches, but also your physical location, and even select keywords from your personal conversations, and then send you advertisements that they think might interest you. For businesses it’s an exciting new advertising venue, but some consumers might claim it violates their privacy.
2. Social Networking
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you might not have noticed that sites like Facebook allow their users to share information about themselves. This is interesting, considering that you couldn’t pay most people enough to fill out a personal questionnaire to be given to advertisers and other companies. But when they’re able to enter that same private data into a fun social website next to a picture of their cat, then they just can’t tell you enough about themselves.
Not only do advertisers use this information to create more custom ads (see point number 1), but they also have evolved to the point of creating their own pages within the networks. They offer prizes and incentives so that customers will share their pages and generate more business for them. This market is not one that is likely to disappear anytime soon. In fact, with more and more sites appearing all the time, the future of social networking seems to be one of business and your average Joe making money online. This is important to note, because with more and more people using their smart devices to check social network sites while on the go, the average citizen isn’t ever going to be far from commerce.
3. App Creation
“There’s an app for that.” What originated as a market slogan has become a truism for the modern world. Now when someone needs to accomplish a specific objective, there’s a good chance that they’ll first check in with the app store. Apps for everything from losing weight, to identifying star constellations, to making your voice sound funny are available for download right now. Not surprisingly, many business are seeing an opportunity, and creating apps of their own. These can be simple free downloads, or they can cost a pretty penny. Whatever the case, the purpose is the same: to offer a service or product while increasing brand-name recognition. With future smart devices such as the Google Glass ready to hit the market at any second, you can bet that more specific and complex apps will rise to fit the capabilities of future technologies, and that businesses will be leading the charge.
Of course, when we talk about the future, nobody is really thinking about next week or even next year, they want to know about twenty years from now. Considering how much our world has changed since 1993, it may be difficult to imagine what kind of new technologies will be available in the year 2033. Whatever may happen, it’s probably safe to assume that mobile connectivity isn’t going to go out of style. In all likelihood, we’ll be even more connected to each other—and to the businesses that we depend on—than we are today.
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