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Coverage of Mobile Innovation Week – Toronto, September 12-16, 2009

Despite the fact that we are all sad to see the end of our short summer, Canadian digital marketers can look forward to the change of the seasons this year. A new Festival came to Toronto and though the dates coincide with the bright lights and glamour of the Toronto International Film Festival, the inaugural Mobile Innovation Week had no problem attracting an impressive roster of speakers and supporters from both the Canadian and global mobile industry.

The event is an important milestone for mobile in Canada as this is the first time the Mobile Marketing Association has ventured north of the border to support an event. The MMA is a global association that strives to stimulate the growth of mobile marketing and its associated technology worldwide. In this video interview, Mike Wehrs, the President and CEO of the MMA, gives a brief overview of what is driving the growth and excitement for mobile content, services and marketing.

Michael O’ Farrell, co-chair of Mobile Media World gives us a rundown of the event that had something for everyone interested in mobile.

2009 has seen many firsts leading up to Mobile Innovation Week and this is helping to stoke the buzz around mobile in Canada and around the world. It is fair to say that all those who showed up for the event held at the CBC’s Glen Gould Studio, whether they were presenters, journalists or industry participants, share the same view that the demand for high quality content and delivery of services through mobile devices is only going to grow from here. Toronto Mayor David Miller knows it. He came to show his support to and gave #MMW09 an official proclamation. Click here for the Youtube video courtesy of Phil Barrett, a Mobile Innovation Week organizer and contributor.

It is unfortunate there wasn’t a stronger presence at the conference from Canadian marketing and media agencies who are searching for new and innovative ways to reach their target markets. The ones who “get it” will stand to benefit the most by bringing new opportunities to their clients and capturing market share from competitors who arrive late to the party.

2009 as the Tipping Point – Mobile Comes into its Own

  • There has been explosive growth in the marketplace. According to Nielson Data, Smartphone penetration jumped 5% between Q4 2008 and Q1 2009. There are approximately 2.1 million Blackberry Curves and 1.8 iPhones in the Canadian marketplace.
  • Canada’s mobile penetration rate is 70% of the population or 22 million people.
  • Mobile Social Media and web 2.0 are driving adoption and usage of Smartphones. There are now 65 million users of Facebook mobile – a 300% increase since January 2009.
  • Mobile data is now a $3billion dollar industry in Canada (Carrier Rates only), and a $30 billion industry in the US.
  • According to ComScore’s data on US mobile content trends, women have surpassed men in their consumption of mobile data. Question that was not answered, what mobile media are women consuming the most?
  • Smartphone users are newbies – according to research done by Cipher New Media, 50% of smartphone users have had their phone for less than a year.
  • According to the Cipher Media Monitor, 1/3 of Canadian mobile consumers would like to switch carriers.
  • Canadian consumers are desperately demanding unlimited data plans like those in the US. However, there is a real risk for carriers because wireless infrastructure is not designed for heavy duty browsing and mobile video consumption. This article in the NY Times illustrates the risk for carriers and may become a major limiting factor in the growth of mobile. An important question: How will Canadian carriers and the new entrants to the wireless market keep up with demand for rich mobile services?

Given that most users are just learning how to use the various applications and features in the new smartphones, and projections indicate that by 2013 smartphones will make up 95% of the market, mobile marketing is poised to be the next revolution in marketing as a whole. In another blog post, I examine how as more companies, brands and media outlets contribute to the mobile ecosystem, the quality and affordability of mobile services for consumers will explode in the 3rd Wave of Mobile Development.

Those of us in the digital marketing and social media industry are very much at the forefront of shaping how mobile will grow in Canada; whether it is through the media and mediums we use to communicate our clients marketing messages, or the apps we download onto our phone. The revolution will not be without its bumps in the road as limits are tested but privacy and metrics standards must be adopted by all those currently in, and those seeking to get into the industry, in order to limit the chance of malicious marketers screwing up the opportunity for the rest of us.

Consider how you share information with friends through our phones now…by text, by email, BBM, Twitter or Fb message, or even with an old-fashioned phone call. We have way more options available then ever before. To some this is exciting, to others it is overwhelming and some find it downright annoying. What are your thoughts on mobile marketing in Canada? Where does mobile fit in to the media mix at your agency? Are there things that excite you about the way we use the mobile Internet? What applications do you think are worthwhile? Is there such thing as a killer app? Is it free or paid?

Please feel free to get the conversation started here or discuss the upcoming videos [we'll be releasing these over the course of the week – Ed.] that contain further insights on mobile in Canada.