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The Future of Mobile: The spy in your pocket

In the first of four City Perspectives features on the future of mobile, we speak to Professor Vince Mitchell about the way in which mobile phones and apps have changed the marketing industry forever.
by Ben

By Vincent-Wayne Mitchell, Professor of Consumer Marketing, Cass Business School.

Mobile devices play a central role in modern life. For some mobiles are becoming the remote controls of their lives. Over half of UK internet users now go online via mobile devices.

Ninety per cent of the world's 1.8 billion internet devices are within arm's reach of their users 24/7. Moreover, phones are very individual. 60 per cent of married people are not willing to share their mobile with their spouse. If that wasn't enough evidence, apparently 10 per cent of people under 25 think it's OK to text while having sex!

One of the main drivers of the increased usage of mobile phones is the nearly two billion apps worldwide. While they are mostly games and entertainment, others are for education and solving l problems consumers. To that extent they are a wonderful example of marketing in action; taking a consumer problem and providing a cost effective, often free, solution.

Privacy and the use of customers' data

Recently, the way in which organisations use the masses of data they collect from their customers has come under the spotlight. Advertisers are in a position to build consumer profiles by collecting consumer data across different applications without consumers knowing or even consenting. Consumer consent it is rarely an informed choice, leading to people clicking without understanding the consequences. 

One such consequence has been the illegal gathering of our data. For example, Google is facing a landmark group legal action by Britons angry over the way it circumvented settings on the iPhone to track their web usage.

In addition to issues regarding personal data, there has been a significant rise in spam text or recorded marketing messages to your mobile. This is despite a recent survey by the FTC that found 85% of consumers want to have choices about targeted mobile ads. More recently there have been problems caused by app developers using subtle payment techniques within apps to make money. 

Ultimately if the mobile industry is to stave off regulation both network providers and platforms such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Blackberry, will need to change their data collection mechanisms. These big names, who are the gatekeepers of the app marketplace need to work towards improving mobile privacy disclosures in order to keep the world from invading our privacy while still allowing us access to the world.

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