Mobile devices have become nearly as commonplace as toothpaste for travelers in North America and Europe. Like the true road warriors we are, we take our wireless gear with us wherever we go — and our use of them is unprecedented.
According to new data from Boingo Wireless, a leading provider of software and services worldwide, smartphones and tablets passed laptops as the most widely carried Wi-Fi device in airports, reaching 58.9 percent of all devices in June. Mobile devices topped the 50 percent mark for the first time in February of this year. The study draws from data across Boingo’s managed network of 60 airports and aggregated network of hundreds of thousands of hotspots worldwide.
Boingo reports the overall size of the Wi-Fi device market has increased five-fold in the last five years, with laptops doubling overall, while the explosive growth of smartphones/tablets accounted for the lion’s share of the growth.
Apple operating system iOS has a commanding market share of mobile devices actively using Wi-Fi in those same venues, representing more than 83 percent of mobile total. Android more than tripled its market share from 2010, but comes in fourth, following iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices.
The numbers also underline an opportunity for companies that — like Boingo — have cleverly identified where we congregate as we circle the globe. Indeed, airports are truly hot spots when it comes to mobile marketing. My own company, Hipcricket, has created an innovative, location-based brand awareness campaign called Blue Moon on the Fly that begins by asking people to opt in by sending an SMS keyword to Blue Moon beer’s short code.
When an opted-in user arrives at a participating airport, they receive a message welcoming them to that airport, along with directions to the nearest terminal where they can find and enjoy a cold Blue Moon beer. Hipcricket and Blue Moon, a member of the MillerCoors family, have selected 59 airports across the country to be part of the campaign. At each of these locations the campaign delivers a unique message to users’ devices at each airport. No blanket mass marketing here. We also harness other channels to increase overall effectiveness, and recruit new users via call-to-action table tents we have set up in participating airports. Acknowledging the incredibly important role of social in the mix, we also support the campaign call out through posts on Blue Moon’s Facebook page.
How I See It: We travel a lot and we use mobile devices more than ever. But anyone who travels a fair amount has surely noticed that not everyone is a road warrior with the newest smartphone. A significant number of people still carry feature phones, connected devices that companies should not ignore. Blue Moon certainly hasn’t, and being all-inclusive (rather than limiting your focus to high-end smartphones) has allowed brands to have reach and impact. While Boingo’s data is interesting, it is important to remember that there is room for all kinds of mobile programs to target those who spend time in transit.
Marketers should grasp Google+
If you’re like me, you scrambled for an invite to join your colleagues on Google+ right after it broke on the scene in July. And, if you’re like me, you have struggled to find the time to settle into yet another social network. Goodness knows contributing to the conversations on LinkedIn and Twitter can expand into a full-time job, if you let it. So, I may have been one of the first to sign in to Google+, but I’ve have spent virtually no time on it.
Apparently, I’m not the only one. Google has moved activities up a gear to capture our attention (and our time). This week the Web giant took the wraps off Hangouts, a mobile extension that enables simultaneous interaction with up to nine people via video.
As Google puts it: “Bumping into friends while you’re out is one of the best parts of going out and about. With Hangouts, spontaneity hits the web. Whether you’re home in your pajamas, or hitting the streets with your mobile phone, video hangouts let you bring up to 9 people into your world. It’s the next best thing to everyone being there.”
For the time being, Google says that you must have an Android phone with a front-facing camera that has Android 2.3 Gingerbread or higher. The company has also announced that an iOS update is coming soon.
How I See It: It Google+ poised to be the next Big Thing? It’s a tough one to call. Having access to Google+ on mobile will certainly increase the odds that I will use it (once it hits the iPhone). I have also become a believer after watching this presentation from social heavyweight Chris Brogan. Brogan eloquently made the case for staying current, pointing out that services like MySpace were red-hot before falling out of favor with users. Social is exciting, and we are just beginning to understand what is possible. As consumers — and as marketers — it’s imperative that we keep an open mind and stay open to trying new things – especially if the new thing comes from the likes of Google.