There is a place where things go to be remembered, and then forgotten. A kind of wilderness strewn with MiniDiscs, scattered cassette players, Atari game cartridges, and ruled by a pixelated snake with an incurable appetite—the fallout from digital revolution after digital revolution. Refugees. Relics. Things lost in time.
Now, with the advent of 4G mobile technology, we can look forward to “buffering” being the newest exile to this digital wilderness (thankfully!). With carriers offering mobile Internet speeds five times faster than 3G, users can download movies in minutes, make videos calls on the move, play live multiplayer games and stream live TV without ever having to see “buffering” interrupt the climax of their favourite show.
The new mobile technology was launched recently by Everything Everywhere, parent company of Orange and T-Mobile, which rebranded as EE to market its new, faster mobile network. It’s available only on select devices, of which the iPhone 5 is the latest, and only through EE’s mobile network. That said, the implications—for consumers, brands and those whose job is to connect them—are huge.
As with TV on-demand, consumer behaviour typically shifts dramatically as they begin to take advantage of the freedom 4G offers them, mobilising their Internet use to never-before-seen levels—downloading videos and other media, and speeding up their migration from desktop to mobile platforms. Consumers now expect rich media as part of their experience with brands, just as they expect a functioning mobile site (which not all brands have yet to master). Furthermore, expect new mobile apps and new business models to springboard off this “instant” technology. Add to all these developments that marketers and creatives need to now broaden, or rather accelerate, their thinking about how they engage and capture audiences on the move.
Soon enough, 4G is certain to be the new status quo across all networks as well as “what’s buffering?”, the newest question to make you feel old. (Don’t worry. You’re not really. It’s just that when you were taught “A” is for Apple, you were looking at a fruit—not a logo.)
David Knights is a copywriter at gyro London.