Fast Company

The Mobile Phone as Gateway Drug

I sleep with my BlackBerry next to my pillow, do you? I've gotten so used to my smart phone, I can't imagine a day when I wouldn't need it. I'm constantly hogging data. I used to have an iPhone, but the coverage was spotty. I won't be the first person to say that there is not enough backhaul bandwidth to address the amount of data that users of the iPhone take up from AT&T. And the fact that people have a better experience with 3G outside of the US tells me that the US is just not ready for the 3G, 4G, LTE, and so on experiences promised for these smart phones we are sold. It's like selling cigarettes to minors. Is the smart phone a marketing device? We are so used to thinking of marketing as language, or images, or the experience of a live event. UPenn's Knowledge@Wharton article looks at the smart phone as a marketing tool, but still it focuses on the content that runs on the phone.
McConville envisions a future where the call to action button could be used to make instant restaurant reservations or allow one to hear a few moments of new music and then instantly purchase concert tickets or order a group’s new CD. Food coupons could be stored on the phone and then swiped at the checkout line for credit. Electronic theater tickets could be purchased ahead of a performance or a movie, allowing a consumer to just show up at the theater with his cell phone. Further, consumers walking down the street could be identified by global positioning satellite (GPS). The GPS would know a consumer’s location and link the phone to ads from nearby retailers. "Imagine walking into the mall and getting a message from Brookstone that they are having a sale," McConville mused.
I like thinking about the phone itself, and its experience, as marketing. Touching the touch screen. Playing with the buttons. Getting used to carrying it around with you everywhere you go. You'll use your phone so much, all the time, it will be your omniscient and omnipresent device. The way you use the data on the phone is also a teaching tool for the carriers. They monitor how you use it, where you use it, and when you use it. They would monitor and measure what is successful on the phone, almost in real-time, if they could. I don't know, perhaps they do. If the purpose of marketing is to link you and your everyday philosophy and meaningful existence to a brand, then the way we have been sold and acculturated towards smart phones is probably the greatest ever marketing maneuver ever.

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