AT&T's New Mobile Features: This Is Just The Beginning

May. 6.12 | About: AT&T Inc. (T)

The popularity of mobile marketing has steadily increased over the past few years with both businesses and consumers. With more and more consumers using smartphones and other devices to research and purchase goods and services online, small business owners have to constantly adapt to meet this increasing need for consumer convenience.

Mobile marketing takes many forms. From text message marketing campaigns to barcode scanning to viewing product details or business websites, the ability to instantly reach consumers has helped many small businesses remain profitable even with increased competition.

barcode Scanning

AT&T (NYSE:T) recently expanded its presence in the mobile market by introducing new mobile scanning features for its barcode app that allows any business to create barcodes for marketing on everything from brochures to magazine ads. When scanned using the camera on an Internet-enabled device, these barcodes take consumers directly to the business' landing page, website, or latest coupon offer. From there, consumers can browse through products and service offerings as they normally do.

AT&T first introduced its barcode scanning app in 2010. At the time, the app was only available to charter members, but now any business can now take advantage of this app. In addition to creating coupons and providing instant access to business websites, the app also includes measurement features that allow businesses to determine where traffic is coming from. This means businesses will now be able to tell with more accuracy which ad, when placed in two different magazines, ends up enticing more consumers. Being able to measure the popularity of specific components of an ad campaign will help businesses better manage campaigns and reduce the amount of money wasted on bad marketing decisions.

Mobile barcode scanning is beginning to change the way consumers find and purchase items online and off. For example, if a consumer wants to compare the price of the same item at different stores, they can visit each store or company website or use marketing barcodes to instantly look up the price and other features and benefits of certain products. Having a variety of research options gives consumers peace of mind when it comes to spending money. By enabling small businesses to utilize this type of technology through its mobile marketing app, AT&T has secured its place in the mobile marketing movement.

Taking Advantage of New Marketing Forms

I think mobile marketing and other forms of social media marketing will become even more popular as technology continues to evolve. It's a smart move by telecom companies to pay close attention to marketing trends so they can provide enhanced services like this one to small businesses and large businesses alike. And since AT&T offers a wide variety of products and services in the telecom industry, expanding even further in the mobile marketing sector will make these products and services even more accessible to those that need these things most - small businesses. By participating in this relatively new form of marketing, a company will still maintain its relevancy and continue to provide plenty of competition for rivals.

For investors, this news won't cause a raucous wave of applause or even shock anyone, especially those who have invested with the company for some time. But knowing that the company is still trying to be innovative and provide enhanced services businesses can actually use is refreshing. I do applaud the effort AT&T has made to cater to this sector of the telecom market. Technology continues to change, and rapidly, so companies, especially those that provide services such as Internet and phone services, need to recognize these changes and adapt services as necessary.

Making a mobile barcode app available for all small businesses will certainly not make investors rich. But sometimes it's the little moves a company makes that really shows investors and consumers what the company is made of. I think investing in AT&T is a wise decision, especially for those that want a reliable stock they can hold on to for the long-term.

A Little Help from the Competition

Healthy competition never hurts, especially in the telecom market. Over the years, several companies have released mobile marketing apps. Verizon (NYSE:VZ) introduced its first barcode scanning app in 2010 and Sprint (NYSE:S) introduced its first mobile barcode scanning app in 2008. Other companies like Virgin Media (NASDAQ:VMED) offer barcode scanner apps for certain phone models including Android smartphones designed by Google (NASDAQ:GOOG).

Because the technology behind the apps is very similar, most consumers don't purchase a cell phone solely based on its barcode scanning abilities. But because one provider includes this capability on devices, then sooner or later, other providers will follow. And now that more and more consumers use the technology, perhaps barcode scanning capabilities will become more important over the next few years.

In my opinion, competition breeds innovation, which leads to technological advances. Adding a barcode app to a cell phone and then allowing businesses to create barcodes to market goods and services is a wonderful example of an innovative idea that lead to major changes in how businesses market goods and services. Without competition, something as simple as a barcode containing a coupon or link to a website may not exist today - along with cell phones and websites.

Benefits of Enhancing Existing Technology

Enhancing technology that already exists can also lead to innovation. And since no one can predict with absolute certainty where this new form of marketing will take businesses and consumers, adding new features to mobile marketing technology may lead to even greater innovations. AT&T has taken the steps necessary to allow more businesses to connect with consumers through its mobile marketing barcode app. With this success will be other technology enhancements or brand new ideas. The company, like the rest of us, will have to wait and see just how popular mobile marketing will become and how it will change the way we shop, find goods and services, communicate with businesses, and interact with other consumers. This is just the beginning.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.