A Macro View of the Global Mobile Marketing Environment: Marketing Opportunities by the Numbers

*all of the graphics and information (except the cell phone operating system data) contained in this post are from the International Telecommunications Union website and publications and may be accessed via the ITU publications landing page. Operating system graphic from Best Choice Tech.

How can you be anything but optimistic about the future potential of mobile marketing? The technological infrastructure to provide 100 percent of the population with access to mobile phone coverage is nearly in place (currently, 90 percent of the world’s population has access to mobile phone service). Over 4.7 billion people have and use mobile phones (predominantly GSM). Both reach (number with access to mobile phones) and penetration (number of people per 100 subscribing to mobile phone packages) are increasing rapidly. Regional differences in penetration exist and will for some time. But the overall increase in reach and penetration provides marketers with a new opportunity to access global market segments while providing measurable (and traceable) results.


One of the biggest challenges for marketers is the technology available to reach potential consumers via their mobile phones. A significant number of applications have been developed for users of iPhones and Android-based phones but users of mobile phones based on other operating systems face limited options. RIM (Blackberry) users are better off than are Nokia users but neither have the wealth of application options available to iPhone and Android users. Why, when Symbian is the most widely distributed global mobile operating system, are so few functional applications available? Clearly a need exists for either consolidation in the mobile operating system options or for development of applications (apps) and web browsers designed in parallel for the system(s) used most widely. This limitation is only valid if apps and browsers emerge as the preferred platform for mobile marketing. The other options, short message service (SMS), e-mail marketing and bluetooth marketing are not impacted or as limited by the distribution of apps. Smart marketers will pursue all available options to reach people who have identified a willingness to receive information (permission-based or opt-in marketing).


Mobile broadband (Internet) subscription per 100 people already exceeds fixed broadband subscription per 100 people in the developed world. Within the next two years, the same condition is expected to exist in the developing world. With 4.7 billion of the 6.7 billion people on the planet subscribing to mobile phone service (70.15 percent), it’s clear that the future of marketing is mobile.


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