As mobile device users become increasingly comfortable switching devices and carriers, service providers are investing in value-add services that will give their customers reasons to stay on board. And they’re finding that the companies that provide these services offer some of the best insights into customer preferences and behavior.
“It almost feels like the consumer is a little bit ahead of where the technology is,” says Michelle Sklar, vice president of industry relations at Poynt Corporation. Poynt is a mobile local advertising platform that currently has more than 17 million users of its application. Sklar says smartphone users are increasingly eager to find what they want, when they want it and where they want it. “Going forward, our user base is going to be engaging with our content in ways like never before,” says Sklar. Poynt integrates offers and location information from restaurants, movie theaters, gas stations, and a number of other businesses so that users can find nearby services on the go.
Poynt has preload agreements with Sprint, Boost, Cricket, Vodafone and Samsung. Users can also download the app onto any iOS, Windows or Blackberry device. Recently the company rolled out its Android beta to users. “We put the beta out to some Android-savvy folks and we have been getting some great feedback,” says Sklar. With Android now accounting for an estimated 68% of smartphones shipped, the platform is a top priority for mobile app developers.
Android still lags behind iOS in the tablet market, but several manufacturers have clearly set their sites on this space, and carriers are scrambling to figure out how to profit from this growing market. Many tablets connect to the Internet solely through Wi-Fi, and even those can connect to cellular networks may be used more frequently on Wi-Fi networks. Recognizing this trend, T-Mobile recently decided to embed Smith Micro Software’s (SMSI) mobile hotspot solution into a number of upcoming smartphones. The software enables additional devices to join the carrier’s network by tethering to the smartphone. “We see expansion of the role of carriers, using the hotspot as proxy to serve a broader range of devices,” says Sunil Marolia, senior director of product management for Smith Micro.
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