Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer believes his company’s plan to release a revamped operating system (OS) for smartphones, Windows Phone 7, will propel them into the race for smartphone OS market share and the advertising treasure the leader will enjoy. Apple and Google have seen their OS and the devices running on them rapidly erode long time cell phone leader Nokia’s dominate position. Nokia has finally taken their blinders off and has recently released a new version, Sybian 3, of their OS. One would have to go all the way back to 2006 to find Nokia’s last smartphone success, the N95, since that time, Apple’s iPhone, released in 2007, has been gaining ground as has Google’s Android released in 2008.
In my previous blog on this topic, Mobile Search and Mobile Advertising, I provided charts outlining the leader board for the smartphone OS and mobile advertising spending with projections. I noted the absence of Mircrosoft and that they would act quickly to get into the race. Microsoft has taken a two prong approach to gaining on the leaders. The first is with their innovating new OS, the second is with their legal muscle as exhibited by their patent lawsuit against Motorola. The stakes are extremely high for all the players in this space, as is the reward. Will a rash of legal maneuvering and the negative press of a patent lawsuit against an open source backed OS be effective in product promotion for Microsoft? I’m not sure the legal approach is going to help Microsoft’s image or convince the public to purchase a device, nor is it going to assimilate developers and we all know that the applications which run on top of the OS are the steroid for these entrants in the race.
In the graph below take a quick look at how the OS race has been playing out during the first three quarters of this year; it clearly shows a steady player, one that rewards developers via low cost of entry due to being open source and few restrictions, Android and Google.
I like the fact that “Do no evil” is the corporate motto and have trusted the search engine giant for years. They continue to innovate and refine their services, an important attribute an application developer considers when picking a development platform, since they rely on a steady stream of income from their applications. Google’s AdWords is the dominate search engine marketing vehicle, and I believe they will continue to refine it to allow all size businesses equal access to the mobile advertising market. Keep your eye out for more articles on this dynamic, fast growth industry news. We will.
Google announced on Monday Jan 4th that their “Click to Call” program will be rolling out this month. In an email sent to AdWords Advertisers, “…your location-specific business phone number will display alongside your destination url in ads that appear on high-end mobile devices. Users will be able to click-to-call your business just as easily as they click to visit your website. You’ll be charged for clicks to call, same as you are for clicks to visit your website.” I really like this concept and think it is great for local advertisers.
Here’s how it will work: an advertiser’s local business number and address will appear as additional lines of ad text, based on the searchers geographic location. While this program will only work for searchers using Smartphones (mobile devices with the ability to view full HTML via the phone’s browser) there is still a huge potential audience for this strategy. According to Forrester Research, U.S. subscribers owning Smartphones jumped to 17% last year from 11% in 2008 and 7% in 2007. That’s phenomenal growth in a year where businesses struggled alongside the economy. Before you can use this program, campaigns must be targeted to high-end mobile devices with the phone number and local business address saved in your campaign settings.
If you are a local business and want to reach out to an ever growing audience ready to call your line when they search for you, then this program is right up your alley. I have said in many blog posts before, that the early adopters to new search marketing strategies usually get the most from their investment because of the lack of competition. I see this program being a staple in any online marketing program for businesses looking to grab a larger share of their local market. The companies who get in early usually grab that market share first and at a lower acquisition cost due to the lower competition.