Top-5 mobile marketing landmarks

Today (April 3) in 1973 the first-ever mobile phone call was made paving the way for the mobile marketing revolution and as we prepare for the widespread launch of 4G services in the UK,Marketing Week reflects on some of the major mobile marketing as mobile marketing reaches its 40th anniversary.


1992: First-ever SMS

The UK can lay claim to a series of firsts in the telecoms sector and sending the first SMS is one. A telecoms engineer sent the message “Merry Christmas” using a PC to a mobile over the Vodafone network. Little did that person know they had just reinvented the Christmas and New Year’s Greetings traditions for the 21st century.

1998: First commercial ringtones


As Finland’s Nokia began to fly the flag for Europe in the mobile handset market, Vesa-Matti “Vesku” Paananen, a fellow Finn, began to make early forays into the now uber-important mobile services sector. Paananen persuaded Finnish telecoms firm Radiolinja to develop a service letting Nokia owners personalise their device’s ringtones.

His early pioneering efforts saw him lauded in the early days of the mobile telecoms services by no less an esteemed body that the Mobile Entertainment Forum – obviously they had forgiven him for his creation giving way to the rise of ‘Crazy Frog’.

1998: ‘Super-fast’ mobile internet services hit the UK

BT Cellnet Genie tariff and net man promised UK customers super fast mobile internet services using WAP pages. All the below ad is missing is an A-list Hollywood celebrity.

2000 – 3G licence auctions

3 logo

As you can guess the above inclusion was a something of a wry observation on what passed for ‘super-fast’ in the late 1990s. However, it was not until the turn of the millennium that telecoms regulator Ofcom would award 3G spectrum in a move that raised over £20bn for the treasury.

Now it was possible to launch mobile internet services more akin to those we’re used to today, with mobile operator 3 debuting the services in the UK.

2008 – The Apple App Store

Apple App Store

Honestly, this was tie-up between the launch of the iPhone itself (in 2007) or the launch of the App Store a year later which accompanied the launch of the iPhone 3G and finally made the words ‘mobile app developer’ understandable to marketers up and down the country. The rest as they say is history.



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