Chapter 11

Stops and Starts

Hipcricket’s Stovall saw several false starts, events that in retrospect could have accelerated mobile’s growth but didn’t.

“What happened was the BlackBerry came out [in 2003] and the BlackBerry exploded and everybody wanted to get into that business,” Stovall says. “So life’s great. Everybody is excited about that and we started selling more to brands but still life wasn’t good. I was on stage saying, ‘This is the year of mobile’ and it never was.

“Then three things happened. Google started talking about getting into the wireless space. They threatened to buy Sprint [a wireless carrier in the United States]. Then the iPhone came out [in 2007] and the carriers’ network speeds got better. These three things—that was the explosion of mobile marketing.”

One of the more confident sellers you will ever find, Hipcricket’s Stovall nonetheless describes the early years as choppy.

“It was all over the place,” he says. “Today people accept that mobile is here, and they are looking for a solution that will be with them long term. Back then, it always was a trial even if it was yearlong. It was a yearlong trial and people weren’t spending big dollars. They were spending conservative dollars.”

For Stovall, Orkin, Braiker, and many others, the June 2007 introduction of Apple’s iPhone was seen as mobile’s defining moment. The iPhone modernized the wireless experience with an intuitive user experience, access to the Web, and applications that met utilitarian needs—the ...

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