Marketing Wireless Time
Marketing Wireless Time
May. 1, 2001 02:42 PM
How did northern Californians cope without wired voice and data communications,
e-mail, and e-commerce - all dependent on uninterrupted electricity? The
lucky folks did well. These smart Californians got their hands on the prototypes
of wireless handheld computers from Handspring and AvantGo of Mountain
View and San Mateo, California, respectively. Or they began pushing Openwave
Systems of Redwood City for better wireless software, and Web page designers
in Santa Monica and San Diego for live video delivered to wireless devices.
And, of course, these telecommuting info-geeks bought the newest mobile
handheld devices with SMS, the wireless Internet, and, in some cases, m-banking
so they could stay in Marin County rather than make the commute to San
Their brilliant decisions
showed us how to survive the end of yesterday's PC-based technology with
the newest wireless services currently available from Vodafone AirTouch.
Before California's electricity
crisis, I made the following forecast: 300 million wireless users worldwide
within two years, and by 2005 one billion mobile devices and $210 billion
in mobile revenues worldwide for wireless telecom firms. These are lowball
figures for two reasons.
First, Americans will pay
attention to how Californians coped with rolling power outages with their
cell phones and other wireless devices, and all of us finally will join
the world in demanding quality 3G wireless services from U.S.-based wireless
telecom providers. The demand for wireless is higher than ever before.
Second, these lowball estimates
assume the continuation of the technological confusion that reigns today
among wireless telecoms, content providers, and m-commerce customers. Let's
hope 2001 is the last year of multiple wireless protocols (such as CDMA,
TDMA, PHS, and GSM) that are incompatible with one another.
Look at what can happen
when most telecom firms agree on common protocol standards. If NTT DoCoMo,
Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, and others agree on W-CDMA and WAP2000 as the
only two protocols for today's wireless handsets in Japan, Europe, and
the U.S., then wireless commerce is ready to become the 30-second promotion
medium for music, movie clips, and sitcom ads and, as a consequence, to
revitalize B2C and B2B electronic commerce. With this one decision to establish
a dual-protocol system for the world, miniature mobile information devices
bury wired PCs.
The Future of Wireless Time
Therefore, double the low-ball
figures. Within four years, I see the world as follows: a new network-based,
real-time computing, mobile era, where businesses and individuals are communicating
and transacting business from any location at any hour, that rises to new
heights and takes over the business life of professionals and the personal
life of individuals. Let's call it wireless time, and recognize it as a
paradigm shift in how we live and work, and love and prosper.
How do we get to wireless
time? Anybody who's a good marketer of Internet time, such as AOL, can
also become a good marketer of wireless time, such as NTT DoCoMo. Join
the two together, as is the case in Japan, and good Internet marketing
managers become good wireless marketing managers, too. Today, 14 million
Japanese customers of DoCoMo's wireless service pay for content from AOL
Which strategies are crucial
to the success of marketing wireless time? Here's a short list:
- Product marketing:
Marketers introduce miniature information appliances with unique interactive
content for wireless customers. Check out the daily manga cartoons in DoCoMo's
- Promotion marketing:
Marketing managers provide customers with value-added intangible product
attributes that are included as part of their smart handheld devices. See
Nokia's rainbow-colored wireless phones.
- Price marketing:
Marketers offer both commodity and higher value-added prices as marketing
managers divide wireless customers into those who do virtually everything
online and those who prefer personal services from telecom, content, and
financial service providers. Compare prices for 2G and 2.5 GPRS services
in Europe's GSM community versus DoCoMo's loss-leader pricing of 3G service
Price marketing is by far the most important marketing strategy for establishing
wireless time. The "right" price creates first-mover advantage, builds
market share, and ensures market dominance. For example, European and Japanese
wireless marketers must teach U.S. customers, who prefer free Internet
content, to adjust to paying for content, and to join the rest of the world
in paying for virtual transactions online through mobile phones, m-commerce,
and the wireless Internet. Teaching Americans to do what others do naturally
with wireless is the essence of marketing wireless to the wired masses
of the U.S.
- Segmentation: Marketers divide like groups of
people across national frontiers into those who have the income, are the
correct age, live in the right neighborhoods, and belong to modernizing
ethnic groups as candidates for the purchase of miniature information appliances,
3G telecom services, and interactive Internet content.
Marketing managers assemble groups of people who are bound together by
their professions, such as entertainers, or by their skills, such as athletes,
and by their personal tastes, habits, and values, such as info-tech geeks.
See NFL football, FIFA soccer, NBA basketball, WWF wrestlers, and other
sports personalities who can't wait for 3G; their coaches who are happy
with 2G and 2.5G; and the owners of the teams and franchises who remain
tied to wired time.
Marketers match possible online Internet products with probable customers;
the former offer the latter enhanced customer relationships to try out
m-commerce, the mobile Internet, and wireless time. Compare the first-place
success of Nokia versus the second-place position of Motorola, and the
failure of Ericsson. Also study the contest for U.S. market share among
Vodafone AirTouch, DoCoMo, AT&T Wireless, and Deutsche Telekom-VoiceStream
Although marketing professionals
speak of segmentation, targeting, and positioning as one continuous effort,
targeting specific like-minded groups is by far the most important in delivering
value to present and potential customers of wireless commerce. Currently,
no U.S.-owned firms are first movers in the race to dominate wireless time.
Instead, they must depend on partnerships and alliances with European-
and Japanese-owned firms to learn how to price wireless products properly
for the appropriate target market groups in the U.S. and elsewhere in the
How do wireless marketers
make money from wireless time? What will venture capitalists invest in
today, tomorrow, and in the second half of 2001?
The Best Wireless Marketing Deals
- Design new interactive content
for the wireless Internet that's different from the content for the wired
- Form wireless alliances among
telecom and content providers.
- Turn i-mode and WAP phones into
dual-protocol, miniature information appliances for 3G digital service.
- Sell cell phones to the following
age segments: m-generation kids, teenagers, Gen-Y (twentysomethings), Gen-X
(thirtysomethings), and boomers (fortysomethings).
- Market anytime, anywhere voice
and data communications, and transaction capabilities to the following
values and lifestyles target groups: teenage Japanese women, unmarried
American info-geeks, married European business executives, Chinese bureaucrats,
- Build brand communities as product-based
experiences for DoCoMo and WAP users.
Today these wireless deals
create value for marketers, beat out competitors, grow sales rapidly, build
market share, make money for business firms, and help investors conquer
the wireless world:
- Web-based phones, with
screens or "home decks" that show books, CDs, airplane tickets, and other
items to purchase, from Finland's Nokia
- W-CDMA or CDMA 2000 from
- Distribution alliances
for connections and content from Japan's NTT DoCoMo's AOL Japan
- Electronic wallets from
Finland and Sweden's Merita-Nordbanken
- Online stock trading from
Charles Schwab and other nonbank financial institutions
- Dual-protocol GSM and i-mode
phones in Europe from Japan's NTT DoCoMo and its Dutch partner, KPN Mobile
- Investments in AT&T
Wireless by DoCoMo with the goal of introducing 3G wireless technology
sooner than 2005
- Online hotel and travel
ser-vices from the Hyatt and other hotels
- Portals in Europe, such
as Vizzavi, itself a joint venture of the UK's Vodafone and France's Vivendi
- Internet banks from global
and local banks in East Asia, Europe, and the U.S.
- Wireless Ethernet network from
America's Aerzone and Wayport for the Red Carpet Clubs of United Airlines,
the lobbies of five-star hotels, and intranets for business offices, university
campuses, and Starbucks coffee shops
Wireless marketers must spend
a great deal of time creating and delivering value for mobile phones, m-commerce,
and the wireless Internet. The devil is in the details on how and when
interactive content, distribution, and platforms morph into interactive
wireless sports, m-entertainment, mobile banking, and other possible money-making
wireless marketing deals. Events do come along to disrupt the best-laid
plans of marketers, technologists, and venture capitalists, such as loss-leader
pricing, Ethernet networks, and market share dominance.
Improved targeting strategies
must be developed to keep Nokia, DoCoMo-AOL, and Vodafone AirTouch ahead.
Second-best wireless marketing strategies are needed to help Motorola,
AT&T Wireless, and Deutsche Telekom-VoiceStream Wireless stay in the
This is the challenge facing
wireless telecom and content providers as they prepare for fewer, but stronger
competitors this year, next year, and through 2003. The power shortage
in northern California is a golden opportunity to push the wireless agenda
in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. Remember: No wireless success today
means disappearance from the wireless market tomorrow.