European businesses working on strategies to reach their target audience can interact with more people through mobile phones than through web sites or email, according to research firm, GartnerG2.
According to the firm's own consumer research, the mobile telephone now offers more than twice the reach of the PC-based internet in Europe, with more people using mobile text messaging (SMS) than e-mail.
But, while the humble mobile telephone continues to be a success, it has been largely overshadowed in 2002 by the debts, doubts and delays surrounding third generation (3G) mobile telephone services, and GartnerG2 warns that the industry appears to be obsessed by 3G, and has forgotten the consumer.
According to the research, 62% of all adults across the major European countries now use a mobile telephone. Today, 41% use SMS, compared to 30% using the internet. Last year, 28% used SMS compared to 29% using the internet. Consequently, SMS seems to have become a powerful marketing tool which could be more important than the web for a range of activities, and mobile operators now need to actively encourage the responsible use of mobile marketing.
Consumers ignorant of 3G
The study also warns that consumers will not automatically upgrade to 3G phones arriving on the market in the months to come. "The industry has been too obsessed with 3G technology - to the detriment of the needs of consumers," explained Adam Daum, chief analyst at GartnerG2. "The vast majority of consumers don't know what their phones are capable of even now, let alone what 3G is, and why they should have it. It doesn't matter how good 3G is if nobody understands what they can do with it."
Mobile operators and consumer-facing companies need to make efforts to educate consumers about 3G, step by step. According to GartnerG2, mobile operators and service providers need a coherent strategy to develop and promote those services.
According to Daum, "This approach will gradually evolve consumers' relationships with their mobile phones, and drive the need for phones with more capabilities so that, when 3G is finally available, they are ready for it."