PDA phones, be they Blackberries, or Windows or Palm based, are becoming more and more prevalent every day. As our lives become more hectic, and small electronic devices continue to merge into single multifunctional tools like PDA phones, people are learning how to use such devices to make their lives easier at work, school, and home. Constantly busy with business meetings, class assignments, and socializing, people have become absolutely dependent on such devices to hold everything together. As a constant touch point with consumers, this is the next frontier for marketers, and while there has been a lot of talk regarding mobile marketing, there has been minimal action.

The opportunity provided by such devices, which are always connected and with the consumer, is unprecedented. Marketers can potentially reach consumers anytime and anywhere. In theory, the consumer is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on the beach, at the gym, in the bar – anywhere there is a signal. PDA phones provide full color screens, with sound and Internet access, so marketing messaging can be unobtrusive, yet creative and appealing. As the basic platform is closely related to the PC, the experience is quite similar and consumers are thus comfortable with them.

The concept of utilizing personal information tied to an individual’s account and using the device’s GPS system to send marketing messages at the right time in the right place to the right person is not new. The movie Minority Report, which came out three years ago, presented this same concept as the protagonist walks through a busy mall and is accosted by personalized holographic ads. While many consumers fear this kind of targeting capability, feeling that it violates a basic right to privacy, if properly applied it can potentially make our busy lives easier and more efficient.

The key to this kind of mobile marketing would be to allow the person to request the marketing information rather than pushing it to them. How would this work? For example, say that I am in a new city that I have never been to before on business. After work, I decide to get a bite to eat and begin exploring the neighborhood around the hotel. How do I know what restaurants are good, where they are located, and what is on their menu? With GPS capabilities and a full screen, PC-like interface, I could simply run a program that enables me to click on a link to restaurants and then be presented with a list of those within a certain distance of my current position. Each could have a review and their menu posted. Virtual coupons could be offered and presented upon arrival. Later, after dinner, I could then use the same system to find a cab, order tickets to a concert, locate an establishment at which to enjoy a nightcap, etc.

In this scenario, the information fed to me is clearly a form of advertisement, kind of like an interactive, indepth, on-the-fly Yellow Pages. The costs of this system could easily be born by both advertisers, who would pay to have reviews and menues added to their basic listings, and the user, who would pay either a monthly fee or a per-use charge on their cell phone bill.

There are a myriad of other potential examples of this kind of user-requested mobile marketing. Instant virtual couponing when a subscriber walks through the door of their favoriate store. The weekly specials at their favorite market delivered to their PDA phone automatically with their morning news clippings. Information on opening a new account fed to them along with their daily investment podcasts. The applications seem almost limitless.

As mentioned previously, the problem that such services would face would be related to consumer perceptions regarding their privacy. Especially here in the United States, we are uncomfortable with other people being able to track our movements and them knowing enough about us to make personalized marketing pitches. We loath “Big Brother” and tend to balk at anything that reeks of his influence. Whether or not mobile marketing reaches this level of sophistication in the near future is highly dependent upon how consumers feel about such outsider insight into our personal lives.