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Mobile – It’s the new black.

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about my new iPhone. It is a thing of mobile beauty.

I quite literally take my phone to bed with me and, more than once, have found myself licking it with affection.

When I finally converted from my totally unusable Sony Ericsson, I was accused of simply being a sheep and following the herd, but I care not a jot, I’m in love. The best part of course, is that I don’t have the slightest inkling how to use the thing and am only just starting to discover the possibilities. Which are endless.

My wife has already banned me from holding it when I’m talking to her because, apparently, I’m more interested in the content on my phone. She actually hides it when we have visitors to the house because, “Sitting on the sofa with your phone and grunting occasionally does not count as joining the conversation…” Of course, I am actually fully engaged in the conversation, just not hers.

So, whilst clearly not first to the bar at the SmartPhone party, I find myself fully committed to the future of mobile internet delivery. It’s an area of the marketing mix that has been woefully underexploited in the business community, but it’s OK, you can relax, I’m going to fix that.

Having started to explore the opportunity, it came as no real surprise that users’ appetite for mobile content is far more advanced than brands’ understanding of the technology and capabilities, or limitations. Despite the credit crunch, some of the top manufacturers of smartphones are still posting sales growth of over 80% pa.

Whilst the recession may be hurting large parts of the global economy, the mobile market is still growing – at speed.

And yet businesses have failed to capitalise on the ability to deliver their digital content to this rapidly growing mobile audience in anything like a compelling way. If I want to access a website from my phone (and I do, all the time…) I can do it, but the experience sucks. On a 3×2” screen, I really don’t care about your flash animations and your searchable, keyword heavy content that appears in 0.05 point type with fifteen dropdown navigation tabs that I can’t read. I couldn’t be arsed to pinch and slide and zoom and scroll – I want and need better delivery of your content on my mobile device if I’m going to engage with your brand. And I’m not the only one.

In the next few of years, I predict an explosion in the development of website content for mobiles. It started with, “There’s an app for that…” where iPhone users could enjoy bespoke applications, easily accessed, with simple, intuitive functionality, but fell short when links from the app led straight back to standard web page content on the main brand website. That needs to change. We need to differentiate between static delivery of web content (large format screens), and mobile devices (SmartPhones, NetBooks, PDAs). The difference is obviously the size, but also the needs of the audience using the device and the environment in which they are using them. Speed, clarity and simplicity of content will reward the brands who move boldly into this space with the customer attention that they need to secure.

Options at the moment, however, are limited. But that’s the opportunity. Brands can use their own IT department to deliver mobile internet but it takes time, costs are high and it may not work across all mobile platforms. Or they can tap into the expertise of others.

Far from being a sheep and following the herd then, I believe I’m actually leading the pack. So flock ewe.

Scot McKee