February 3, 2011, 11:43 AM

U.S. mobile marketing investments will surpass $1 billion in 2011, Forrester predicts

Mobile will merge with social media and location-based programs, study finds.

Lead Photo

Julie Ask, Forrester analyst and one of the authors of Mobile Trends 2011

A new report from research and advisory firm Forrester Research Inc. says mobile marketing  investments will surpass $1 billion this year as marketers begin to see returns on their investments from consumers buying more via mobile.

The report, “Mobile Trends 2011,” also predicts mobile will combine with social and local services through programs like Facebook Places to gain significant traction over standalone location-based services. However, it says that ad revenue from such services will be cut short because of privacy concerns.

The report, written by Forrester analysts Thomas Husson and Julie Ask, also predicts companies planning to reach large audiences via mobile apps will continue to face a fragmented market with a wide variety of mobile devices, operating systems and screen sizes.

The report also forecasts:

  • The term mobile will mean a lot more than mobile phones. Tablets such as Apple Inc.’s iPad will emerge as a category of their own in the years to come. However, the report says only mobile phones will sell in the hundreds of millions and are truly “pocketable,” providing anywhere/anytime connectivity.


  • 2011 will be the year of “the dumb smartphone user.” Because of deep discounts, smartphones will be available to the masses. That, Forrester says, means new smartphone owners will be less engaged and active than earlier Android and iPhone owners. However, thanks to customer education and the convenience that such sophisticated devices offer, even so-called “dumb smartphone users” will consume massive amounts of mobile media and data.


  • NFC, augmented reality and Quick Response, or QR, two-dimensional bar codes will finally reach their tipping points. Technologies such as QR codes and mobile augmented reality, which uses the capabilities of a mobile phone to enhance a presentation, such as using the smartphone’s GPS to identify a consumer’s location and then displaying through the device’s camera view a coupon to a nearby store, are already helping bridge the real and digital worlds via mobile devices, Forrester says. And the report predicts 2011 will finally be the year that Near Field Communication (NFC) begins to matter for mobile. The market will start to move away from the pilot stage in regions where NFC infrastructure is in place, Forrester says. "There is already quite a bit of this happening in Japan," says Ask. "More of it will occur with education with consumers in the U.S. and Europe. We’re at the very, very beginning of consumers beginning to understand these use cases with their customers." NFC is a technology that enables phones (or other items, such as credit cards) to interact with objects—such as posters and payment terminals—over a distance of a few inches.

Several media outlets last week reported that Apple is working on adding NFC mobile payment capabilities to the forthcoming iPhone 5. Companies such as Isis have launched over the past year aiming to enable shoppers to use NFC technology to pay with their phones in stores. Isis is backed by AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless, which together provide wireless services to more than 200 million U.S. consumers.

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