THE NEW GENERATION OF WIRELESS
Before we begin discussing the advertising capabilities available on today’s wireless networks, it’s important to have an understanding of the new wireless networks and devices that make all these great applications and features possible.
3G refers to the third generation in wireless technology. This is the technology behind the new mobile phones designed to offer more features. Rather than just voice capability, 3G networks can offer video calling and broadband wireless data. With 3G service, you can listen to streaming audio, watch streaming video, answer emails, surf the net and play games in 3-D. And, all these data capabilities come at speeds you’ve come to expect on your home computer.
The standards for defining just what constitutes a 3G network were created and are maintained by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) under the IMT-2000 standards. Today, a group called the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) continues to maintain the definition of mobile systems that meet the IMT-2000 standards. This is referred to as Universal Mobile Telecommunications Systems, or UMTS. This definition of 3G has been rolled out over networks existing GSM (Global System for Mobile) networks.
In addition, 3G type services are offered today on CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) networks, as well. This means is that, through technology advancements, wireless data can now be offered on multiple types of cellular networks. Most end users have no idea whether their service is a GSM based service, a CDMA based service or an older generation service. Today’s users just know that they want 3G, and many are willing to switch carriers in order to obtain internet and application capabilities on their phones.
The overall premise that allows 3G networks to offer more services than traditional wireless networks is the fact that 3G technology uses the existing radio spectrum on which it operates more efficiently, so that each service uses fewer of the available radio waves. When each service needs fewer waves, more services can be offered simultaneously. It is this efficient use of the frequencies that has allowed what was once a simple voice only wireless network to evolve into being able to offer internet and other data services. 3G networks also offer greater security than legacy wireless systems because users authenticate to the network upon registration.
For wireless data capabilities (internet and email), 3G networks use High Speed Packet Access (HSPA). HSPA increases performance on the network by using improved modulation schemes and by refining the protocols by which handsets and base stations communicate. Under HSPA, 3G networks can offer data delivery speeds that are comparable to high speed internet access on your home computer.
There’s been press about 3G for years, though the first true 3G network was launched in Japan in 2001. 3G didn’t become a reality in the US until 2003, when Verizon launched their network. Before Verizon, Monet Mobile Networks had attempted a 3G network but had to shut down operations. Verizon’s network has grown steadily since its launch. Today, in addition to Verizon, 3G services are offered by AT&T, Sprint/Nextel and T-Mobile.
One of the biggest issues surrounding the launch of 3G services in the US revolved around the need for users to roam onto 2G networks in order to allow them at least basic voice service in areas where 3G is not available. This issue has caused mobile phones to be larger than 3G required, so that they could operate on 2G networks and 3G networks. As 3G technology has become available in more places, this becomes less of an issue. But, even today, many of the 3G carriers offer 3G services only in large metropolitan areas.
3G services require compatible user equipment. These 3G wireless devices are designed to house the features offered by the 3G network. These new phones offer many features and capabilities never before available on wireless phones.
Apple’s iPhone offers a combination of wireless phone and their popular iPod MP3 player. With this combination device, you no longer need a separate phone and MP3 device. In addition to calling capabilities and music storage and listening, the iPhone also provides access to AT&T’s 3G wireless services.
With the iPhone, you can surf the web, read your email, watch videos, and purchase new MP3’s. This phone offers a web browser that is comparable to that of your desktop. It also offers GPS capabilities through its maps. Working like a typical separate GPS device, you can map your route, get
directions and track your progress and expected arrival time while you’re along your route.
Via “push email” technology, your iPhone will allow you to get your email and use your Outlook calendar just as if you were sitting at your desk. You can also download a variety of applications, like Twitter and 3D games.
Basically, other 3G phones are referred to collectively as “smartphones”. They combine wireless phone capability with that of a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). PDA’s are small, lightweight, handheld computers that allow users to get email and surf the web. Your PDA is periodically “synched” with your home or business computer and is considered a “portable” version of your desktop.
Of course, now that 3G technology is widely available, who wouldn’t want to combine the features of a PDA with their phone? None of us wants to carry two devices when one can do the trick. Today’s smartphones typically carry open operating systems and the ability to add applications. This open operating system is significant, because it allows the phone to support a wide variety of applications – not just those created by the phone’s manufacturer.
Most smartphones support full featured email capabilities and all the other functions of a PDA. They often come with small full function keyboards for typing, navigation hardware and software and a camera. They support typical office applications like Microsoft Office products. And, many smartphones offer music playing capabilities, much like the iPhone.
Smartphones are made by various manufacturers and come in various price points. Many smartphones are designed to be compatible on only one of the 3G networks in the US. Therefore, you may be limited in your smartphone choices by your wireless carrier.
As you can imagine, there are many different applications and uses for the new generation of mobile phones. These capabilities offer users opportunities they never before dreamed of. For the most part, users fall into two general categories – the business user and the casual user. Both have appeal to advertisers looking to increase market share using 3G technology as an advertising vehicle.
Teens are one of the largest segments of casual users. Most of us realize that teens are heavy cell phone users, but many are surprised to find that teens are the fastest growing segment of the smartphone user population. While smartphones and their associated services still carry a fairly stiff price tag, their costs have reduced over the last year, making them more and more affordable to the teenage market. And, with bundled packages from carriers offering price breaks, parents are more likely to purchase such services for their kids while purchasing for themselves.
Teens and other casual users use smart phones primarily as a means for entertainment and casual networking. They are less likely to read email on the smartphone, for example, than a business user. They are also unlikely to use applications like Microsoft office for documents, spreadsheets or Powerpoint documents.
Casual users are, however, heavy users of text messaging and applications like Twitter. Twitter is a social networking site whose sole purpose is to keep friends connected and apprised of each other’s current status. Twitter seeks to answer the “what are my friends doing?” question at any moment of the day. The service works on short messaging systems, the web and through text messaging.
Casual users are also big web surfers. They are likely to use internet applications to answer all their burning questions throughout the day, such as “Where’s the nearest burger joint?” or “Where is the nearest theatre playing that movie I want to see?” These heavy internet users are thrilled to take web browsing on the road and they don’t mind paying for the convenience of being able to surf anywhere.
Finally, casual web users are heavy users of audio and video. They are very likely to listen to music and watch videos. They’ll trade the latest funny video from You Tube and download new MP3’s. In a pinch, they’ll even watch a full length movie on their wireless device if they have no other screen available. They are also more likely than business users to download 3D games and other entertainment applications.
Business users likely make up the larger segment of wireless 3G users. They’re primary use for their mobile phone is keeping up with business – wherever, whenever.
Today’s business environment is far different than that of just 15 years ago. Today’s business people don’t expect to be tied to an office, but they also want to be able to respond to the demands of business where ever they go. 3G phones and other remote applications give them the best of both worlds: they can spend time with their families without ever missing a beat at the office.
3G business users rely heavily on email via their phones, and they will access and update their calendars via their wireless devices, too. They will use applications like Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat to read email attachments. They will surf the web for business and personal applications, but their primary focus is staying abreast of the workplace situation.
The business user will appreciate his 3G phone for its ability to keep him connected with friends and family via phone and text messaging. They will also likely use their device for listening and storing music downloads, but they will use all these features to a much lesser extent than the casual user. Their device is likely to carry no games, or only those that came already loaded on the phone.
In the following chapters, we’ll explore marketing to these two basic types of users and help advertisers understand how you can profit from simple marketing techniques that capture business users and casual users of 3G technology.