Monday, November 20, 2006

Cell Surfing

The tech and Christmas shopping news of the PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii (sold out on its first day) has briefly distracted me from the idea surfing the Web via cellphone. That’s likely to be my own “next frontier” and I’m late to the party.

No early adopter, me.

I did wonder about market opportunities, though, for clients like EMS Group, with its successful launch of e-mailed newsletters. Fortunately, the Center for Media Research came through last week with a little help: a press release from comScore Networks about market use of cellphones to access the Internet on a country-by-country basis.

A much higher percentage of Europeans are surfing with their “handies” than we are in the US: 29% of European Internet users in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK regularly access the Web from their mobile phones compared to only 19% of Americans. The highest mobile Web penetration is seen in both Germany and Italy, both at 34% of their cellphone-using population.

On the other hand, those percentages are misleading, number-wise. Our 19% represents about 152 million users – if I’m reading the numbers right. Germany, the highest of the Euros, has 32 million users.

The other big difference is in who’s providing the content. In the US, most users are accessing through online portals like Google, Yahoo! and MSN; in Europe, it’s the local mobile providers that are delivering the Web to European cellphone users.

Regardless of portal, though, the US’s 19% penetration leaves plenty of room for market expansion, as well as multiple opportunities for business-to-business marketers to use the cellphone access point to their advantage.

This past weekend, air-traveling to and from Chicago, I noted just how many people were juggling iPODs, Blackberries and cellphones. These prospects-on-the-move are open to exploring new options for sales message delivery.

You think I’m preaching to the converted? Far too many companies in the B2B space are not yet taking advantage of the portable technologies. What about making those first steps and examining ways to get customers and prospects to your site via telephone? Why don’t we examine incentives for getting customers and prospects to our websites via their cellphones, where we’re more likely to capture their attention these days?

I don’t have quite enough toys yet – but Christmas is coming.

Samsung Blackjack courtesy of Cingular Wireless.

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