Text is king, and it’s going to stay that way for awhile

Recently I was sort of explaining the business to a friend whose knowledge and perceptions about the mobility market were probably pretty common. Like a lot of people I’ve talked to, she sort of looked suspiciously at my suggestion that any effective marketing, advocacy or content play was going to need to be based in SMS (text messaging).

But what about Blackberries and all the phones that stream higher-order content, she wondered. She was under the fairly common misperception that penetration of these technologies is a lot greater than it actually is. For example, what do you think the penetration of WAP-addressable handsets is? You probably guessed high – despite all those cool commercials featuring all those cool features, market penetration of WAP-enabled phones is only around 60%. More…That’s not nothing, of course, and the numbers are growing with each passing day. But do you really want to ignore 40% of the market?

So what about smart phones – you know, Blackberries and Treos and the like. Those are the ones with the serious capabilities, and from what we can tell every business person in America has one. The penetration number there: single digits.

Meanwhile, penetration of SMS-capable devices is well over 90%.

The lesson here is important for marketers looking to launch mobile strategies (and I hope this number is growing, too). If you want to target a significant audience, you need to think in terms of SMS programs and applications. The good news is that SMS is incredibly powerful – far moreso than most people realize.

My friend is a smart woman and she asked me a lot of really intelligent questions. She just didn’t realize – and how would she. My guess is that a lot of marketers out there who are starting to think about mobile are just like her – they’re operating with some faulty assumptions.

The news is better than they suspect.

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