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Moving at the Speed of Mobile

Last month, the Chinese city of Chongqing began testing smartphone lanes—or designated sidewalks for pedestrians who are too enthralled in messaging to watch where they’re going—, an initiative that makes more sense as mobile technology continues its rapid ascension. In January 2014, 58% of American adults owned a smartphone, while 42% owned a tablet, according to the Pew Research Center. Now—less than three months away from 2015—those figures are surely even higher, and as mobile penetration increases, so too our obsession with second screens continues to rise.

Mobile, no doubt, has tremendous effects on mobile users’ daily lives and marketers’ campaigns and strategies. Some of these changes are visibly positive, such as the rise of the social Web. However, mobile’s increasing influence has also negatively influenced society, such as—ironically—with the rise of the social Web.

Here, Jeff Anulewicz, executive director of strategy at consumer engagement agency Meredith Xcelerated Marketing, chats about some of the ways mobile has transformed our lives, our businesses, and where the mobile movement will take marketers in the future.

Tell me. How is this second-screen obsession affecting marketers?

As mobile technology continues to change, consumers’ usage continues to evolve.  The greatest challenge marketers have is that things are moving so quickly; it’s sometimes difficult to foresee what is going to stick and what will end up being a fad. The focus should be on understanding the needs of the end consumer along their path to purchase and leverage technology—both established and cutting edge—to help them meet those needs.  In the end, it requires marketers to focus on following their consumers rather than chasing technology.

So, what are some of the unexpected ways that the mobile’s ever-increasing use has affected daily life?

The sheer ubiquity of mobile devices in our everyday lives is just amazing. And with the rapid growth, in terms of network and chipset speeds coupled with storage capacity, the role that mobile devices play changes on a regular basis. I think the biggest unexpected change is how small it has made the world.  You’re within a finger tap of reaching out and connecting with someone, with taking a picture of the world around us, and immediately sharing it or watching a video that was shot just a few moments ago on the other side of the world. 

Would you describe that as positive or negative change?

Change will always have both positive effects and unintended negative consequences,  for all that mobile technology has done to shrink the world and bring us closer together.  At the same time it creates this heads-down experience that pulls us apart socially, preventing some from living in the real world. The best uses of mobile technology are utilitarian—it adds value to our everyday lives in small, meaningful ways—while still allowing us to have our heads up and interact with the real world. 

Where do you see mobile technology in five years?

In five years, mobile technology will be much more ingrained into our daily lives—so seamless, integrated into everything we do [and connected to] every object we interact with-that it will be impossible to imagine decoupling it.

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