The first smartphones appeared on the market during the halcyon days of the 1990s tech boom, and like the first personal computers, they spread through the business world like wildfire. Only recently, however, have smartphones become advanced enough for savvy entrepreneurs to use them as a powerful platform for marketing their products and services to consumers. Small businesses are in a particularly good position to take advantage of the rise in mobile computing because may not have to worry about the bureaucracy that can bog down large companies.
Perhaps you own a small business but are not sure whether investing in mobile computing will add to your bottom line, especially since it’s not always easy to predict where digital trends will go. After all, the blogging craze of the last decade has given way to more user-friendly options such as Facebook and Twitter. There are, however, three strong reasons why the current smartphone craze isn’t likely to go away and may soon become the next big business venue.
Reason #1: LTE
You don’t need a business degree to understand why smartphones have played second fiddle to fixed line broadband when it comes to their usefulness as a business platform. Mobile broadband has simply been unable to reach the speeds necessary to display web content and applications quickly. Long Term Evolution (LTE), however, promises to upset this trend since it supports download speeds up to 100Mbps and boasts of a high user capacity. While it will take time before LTE becomes the global standard for wireless networks, it will give smartphones the performance boost they need to compete with desktop computers.
Reason #2: Popularity
Why balance a clunky laptop on your knee when you can use a smartphone or tablet instead? This is what consumers are thinking now that mobile computing devices have become robust enough to handle most – if not all – of their needs. More than a third of all Americans already use smartphones, which is why marketing analysts from the International Data Corporation (IDC) predict that by 2015, mobile devices will become more popular than desktop PCs when it comes to accessing the web. Businesses that go mobile now, therefore, will gain an enormous advantage over competitors that wait to utilize this technology.
Reason #3: Convenience
How are consumers using their mobile devices these days, anyway? While smartphones have long been popular for playing games and listening to music, they have now become an important shopping tool. According to a Google survey conducted last year, 79% of the respondents used their phones to provide them with shopping information while on the go, 74% made an in-store purchase after browsing, and 35% actually bought products through their devices. Smartphones, then, are fast becoming the most convenient way for consumers to find information about products and services they need. Although the data also reveals that mobile devices are not the preferred way to buy, it’s likely that once more attention is given to developing stronger security features, consumers will overcome their fear of identity theft just as they have done with shopping online at home.
For these reasons and more, small business owners should consider taking full advantage of what mobile devices have to offer, not only because they are a way to reach existing customers immediately, but also because they enable easy access to new markets. In addition, mobile devices will soon become powerful enough to handle more demanding business computing tasks, which should cut hardware costs. Lastly, mobile devices give users access to information wherever they go, meaning that small business owners with an eye for the future will want to invest in both apps and mobile versions of their existing websites to keep customers happy.
Bethany Brewer writes on all the latest technological trends as a freelance writer from Los Angeles, CA.
 Rao, Leena. (April 26, 2011). Google survey: 39 percent of smartphone owners use their devices in the bathroom. TechCrunch.