The mobile community loves to talk innovation. We love every shiny new advancement that comes through, whether it be NFC, or Bluetooth or apps. But at the end of the day, most companies only care about innovation in as much as it offers them immediate ROI, otherwise they’re happy to stay with the status quo.
But what too many companies are failing to see is that the up-front cost of a good mobile initiative can be nothing in comparison to the cost of lost opportunity. Technological revolutions don’t come every day, and right now we’re in a mobile revolution. Companies must look to the historical precedents set in the internet revolution to understand the gamble they’re making by not having a mobile strategy.
An Old Institution Can’t Survive New Technology
Today, many media outlets are in a sad decline as their ad revenues are chewed away by online advertising, their classified business is stolen by craigslist and their content is used by Google. Even though most news outlets have gotten savvy and hired tech and interactive staff knowledgeable in the latest ways to produce and monetize digital content, for many, it will be too late to stop the financial hemorrhage.
But it didn’t have to happen this way.
While newspaper kept ten people in the Paris bureau and TV stations gassed up eye-in-the-sky helicopters, there was a content and advertising revolution happening online. Media institutions dragged their feet on investing in technological advancements that would help them keep pace, and consequently they became victims of innovation rather than drivers of it. Granted, this is a very oversimplified view of what’s happening, but it’s fair to say that media companies had the financial resources to come up with something like Craigslist or apps like Flud or Pulse, but they chose to put their money elsewhere.
Entertainment Moves to the Second and Third Screens
Another example we are still seeing play out in front of us is Blockbuster versus Netflix and Redbox. Blockbuster was an institution, a household name synonymous with popcorn, family night and slumber parties. They had a location on every corner and a membership card in the pockets of most Americans, but there was a double whammy of innovative technology stalking them. While Blockbuster continued to pour money into brick and mortar locations, Redbox was rolling out more then 20,000 kiosks and Netflix was making deals with major studios and offering subscribers a buffet of content. Although Blockbuster has tried to play catchup introducing 7,000 kiosks of its own and an ‘a la carte online library, it’s been too little too late.
Furthermore, Netflix doesn’t STOP with its investment in innovation. They were quick to add streaming apps to iPad and iPhone and have partnered with Kinect to let viewers use voice commands and gestures to control Netflix.
Opportunities like this don’t come often, once in a decade if we’re lucky, and there will be companies that won’t survive the mobile revolution – most of them will never see it coming. Mobile isn’t a bandwagon trend that companies need to get on just to say they did, it’s a serious disruptor. When the dust settles it will be those who planned out a smart mobile path, introduced new products and used mobile to enhance their existing product that will thrive.