We’re on a collision course. It’s going to be an epic collision. Not the type that everyone slows down to look at. Nope. Something far more catastrophic is going to occur. We’re consuming more and more “data” on our phones. There’s no sense in even referring to our devices as smartphones; the segment of people with “feature” phones is dwindling faster than our ice caps. As our phones become more powerful, the battery life longer and the ecosystem of apps more dynamic, it’s becoming second nature for us to be connected.
So we download an app. We check Facebook. We tweet. We check-in. We stream videos from Netflix. We instagram. And instagram. And instagram some more. We consume. We consume like crazy. And why shouldn’t we? The web is how we learn, discover, share, communicate and enhance our relationships. Today, we can do all of that, all the time, from anywhere. Our whole life fits in our pocket.
We’re moving forward like a turbo charged race car on a highway without speed limits. But, as we try to accelerate, as we try to enjoy the buzz that comes from speed, we’re getting read to hit speed bump after bump and eventually a wall. Those bumps and that wall are our antiquated wireless infrastructure. AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and eventually Sprint are capping our access. Their data plans act like governors that keep us stuck in 3rd gear.
Consumers want to access the web on demand and on the go. As marketers we want to deliver content and information that enhances their experience. But, we can never realize the potential that comes from a unique situation where consumers want the same thing as marketers; the web…on tap. We talk about the power of the cloud. But, the cloud offers little value if we can’t access the cloud without fearing a data overage charge?
Could you imagine a world where Comcast throttled how much TV you could watch? A world where ever month you could only watch X minutes of TV? Of course not. And one major reason why you’ll never have to imagine that world is advertisers would never allow it. You can’t siphon off one of the largest pipes that allow advertisers to reach consumers.
TV is at scale. No one questions that. No one questions TVs ability to reach massive amounts of people quickly. That’s why I think we are headed for a collision. With smartphone penetration over 50% and consumption on a hockey stick growth curve, we’re going to see advertisers fight with service providers. It’s inevitable. For once, no one is disagreeing that mobile is the future. Where there is still disagreement though, is if the future is now. That disagreement is what allows the Verizon’s of the world to put up speed bump after speed bump and keep us all from fulfilling on the promise of mobile.
The collision is imminent. It’s approaching rapidly. But, it won’t happen because you, the consumer, wants a better mobile experience…wants unmetered data…wants an on demand and on the go world. Nope. It’s going to happen because advertisers will refuse to operate in a world where their ability to market to customers is being constrained by the “pipe” providers.