The One-Off Mobile Breakthrough

NEW YORK — Oh, if only there were more iPhones. To many playing in the mobile marketing space, that device has changed the game. It’s a pity it’s the only one of its kind, and holds just 2 percent of the market share.

Speaking this morning at the MediaBistro Circus media conference, a panel of mobile experts outlined the lay of the land, describing the prospects and pitfalls of an emerging marketplace where many major Web companies are placing big bets.

That device, which currently represents about a 2 percent U.S. market share, changed the mobile game.

To the presenters, the iPhone changed the rules of the game. Unlike many other mobile devices, the iPhone can read the Flash and Javascript and AJAX common to traditional Web sites.

Of course, in the meantime, they’re all waiting for the iPhone to make its 3G debut, and for other handset makers to come out with devices that offer a similar Web experience.

Then, too, there’s the nettlesome problem of the carriers. For their part, Verizon and AT&T have begun making signs that they are willing to open their networks to outside devices and applications. But that’s only a start. The mobile market will only take off once the U.S. carriers catch up to their European and Asian peers and embrace common standards for their networks. Google’s Android initiative could be an important step forward, but the carriers are still dragging their feet, panelists noted.

Until the day that changes, the domestic mobile market seems destined to remain an also-ran.

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