Cast your mind back 10 years – what were you doing? I was working as an Account Manager at i-level. Back then felt like a much simpler time. The internet ruled from desktops and digital media buying still involved faxing signed IO’s back to media owners. Phones were basic and not used at scale, their cameras were poor and the internet experience was terrible.

Then along came the iPhone.

The world changed. At first, Apple fan-boys were the only ones jumping on the bandwagon, but then more and more of the general public had the iPhone in their back pocket. With no competitors in the early days, Apple stole the march on the entire landscape. We raved about pinch and zoom, and had our minds blown with apps.

What’s happened in the decade since then will be treated as one of the most important technological revolutions in history. In that space, we’ve gone from intermittent, stationary internet use at a fixed source to having a mini computer in our pockets that gives us a constant window to the internet and the world.

Never before has a single device and brand changed human behaviour at such a scale, with smartphones allowing us to do whatever we want, whenever we want it. Our dopamine receptors have never been under so much pressure to post, like, share, tap and photograph every moment. Social media rules our lives, gaming isn’t just for young guys, we all know the answer to every quiz question, and children are growing up with swipe as an automatic reflex.

This behavioural shift has led to a seismic shift for media. Channels have been eaten alive by digital, with mobile fuelling usage and growth. Traditional media channels that were once unmovable institutions are now under immense pressure from young upstarts that put mobile at the core of their platform – creating content with mobile usage as a priority rather than retro-fitting what already exists.

Today’s business giants are those that have mastered mobile– Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon are the new kings. They’ve achieved this by anticipating the importance of mobile for consumers before it even happened, gearing their platforms to deliver us the experiences we didn’t know we wanted. Search on the go, apps, social media, and buying with one click wherever you were.

Apple was ready to take on the competitors who quickly sprung up with attractive, cheaper offerings for consumers. Although the playing field is now more even, we still haven’t truly realised the full advertising opportunities within the mobile space. It’s a brave new world that has thrown up so many possibilities but we need to look more to big-data machine learning to master this. Only then we will truly understand and appreciate mobile’s ability to bridge the gap between digital and physical like no other medium.

Once we’ve mastered the present, we can move on to the future. It’s hard to predict what the next 10 years will hold. We could have a new technology giant that creates a new niche for a need we don’t yet realise we have. Forecasters certainly think so, predicting that by 2021 the global app economy will be worth $6.3 trillion. One of the biggest developments this year will be the public version of Facebook’s VR browser, currently named Carmel, which will allow users to browse the web inside their VR headset. This platform enables brands to bring experiences to their customers in the comfort of their own homes, for example, one car brand offers a configurator experience that lets customers sit in the driver’s seat and customise the vehicle. These developments and trends are a reflection of a world where mobile will be the primary media consumption device.

With the speed at which new technology is being developed, I would be surprised if in 10 years we are still using mobile phones in their current guise, when there are so many options for these devices to physically tailor the world around us. What we can say is that if the past 10 years are anything to go by, the next 10 are surely going to generate technology that will continue to the change the way we live and experience the world around us. I can’t wait to spend hours queuing for the next must-have that I didn’t realise I must have.


By James Hudson, Head of Digital, Zenith

Published in Mobile Marketing Magazine

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