American Marketer


What was it about Qualcomm’s CES opener earlier this month?

January 23, 2013


By Doug Rozen

What many have been labeling the most insane keynote ever was actually pretty sane to me.

I was among the throng who sat perplexed at Qualcomm’s CES opener, which has been subjected to social media torture and pundit mockery. And I will admit, when you sat through the presentation with the over-amped "Born Mobile" actors, it was a bit like watching RGIII in the fourth quarter against the Seahawks. You knew it wasn't going well, and you wondered why it was happening.

Thanks to Maroon 5 for saving the day. After it was over though, it struck me that the message was right. The delivery was just a bit, well, unique.

Calling it

If you strip away Blade II and Big Bird, the message was: The device is not the center of mobile anymore.

The person, who uses the device, is the center. And that person, as the “Born Mobile” crew tried to show, comes in many different forms, which we like to call “personas.”

Yes, Qualcomm went a bit over the top with the portrayals of those personas but the message is the right one.

We believe this is great news for marketers because the keynote was not about mobile, but rather mobility.

Mobile is about the technology, the hardware, the operating system. Mobility is about us, as consumers, and how our mindset and tendencies have changed.

Compare today to just a decade ago and think: How did you look something up – there was no Google. How did you entertain yourself for two minutes – there was no Angry Birds or Song Pop. How did you reach out and touch someone – there was no Facetime, Skype or SMS. In just 10 years’ time, it is hard to imagine our lives without connected devices.

Dialing in
I believe the best mobile marketing opportunities lie in how you connect with a consumer, not leverage the technology.

It is how reach the teenager who cannot stop texting, but also how you reach her parents that read magazines on their tablet.

It was good for Qualcomm to hang up the phone at CES and introduce us to the customer on the other end of it – regardless of how it was delivered.

Mobility can be a liberating concept for marketers because we stop talking to ourselves about QR codes, applications and augmented reality.

We can now focus on using mobile to connect with consumers wherever, whenever, whoever they are. We can allow mobile to fill the voids that other channels cannot cover while using the technology to deliver a rich brand experience.

I SEE QUALCOMM’S CES opener as an opportunity to put mobile marketing on the right track.

We need to recognize this key shift that will remain long after the mockery is over.

Mobile is about the device. Mobility is about consumer behavior. And while I would not have been completely surprised to see Lady Gaga appear next on that stage, her message of “I’m on the right track baby, I was born this way” can easily define mobile’s next phase.

Doug Rozen is senior vice president and general manager of MXM’s mobile practice at The Hyperfactory, New York. Reach him at