Next-gen phones will alter mobile

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E-mail marketers tend to think of mobile marketing in the familiar Internet terms: Short message service — more commonly known as text messaging, or SMS — is like e-mail for a phone, and wireless application protocol, or WAP, pages are like e-mail-driven landing pages on the Web.

While these are important, if not critical, elements of mobile marketing, they represent only a portion of the overall mobile marketing spectrum.

As mobile devices evolve beyond basic cell phone capabilities and the wireless experience grows to encompass a multitude of media in one handheld device, marketers must likewise expand their view about mobile as a marketing channel.

To be successful, mobile marketers must go beyond just sending messages. They must become an integral part of each person's total wireless experience. Today, in addition to text messaging, mobile marketing is as much or more about branding with ringtones, wallpapers, handy applications and video.

The Apple iPhone and its cutting-edge siblings represent more than a next-generation approach to mobile phones — they make Web surfing viable on small, wireless devices.

This is a huge development for mobile marketers. The lightweight browsing made possible on most phones by WAP pales in comparison to the experience of using the Safari browser on an iPhone.

So as marketers consider how to best leverage the mobile channel, a big question emerges: Can Web on a phone become feasible as a market offering and widespread enough to make SMS and, particularly, WAP obsolete? It's an intriguing development, and I'll be watching with interest to see how it all unfolds.


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