Mobile coupons have long been a story lots of people have tried to get their heads around (the oldest blog entry I found dates back to 2003). There is a large number of players working on and with this and there have been the occasional successes: Austrian firm 3United (acquired by VeriSign) sold mobile tickets for a Britney Spears concert in Vienna as early as 2005 and 10% of all tickets sold were sold via mobile (they upsold additional content to 85% of those users!; see here). Scottish company Mobiqa is rolling out a mobile ticketing solution for MLB through (see their showcases here). There are countless more applications in the area (apologies for not mentioning everyone…)

Cellfire now reports “about” a million people who have signed up for their service in the US. The WSJ ran an article about this (read it here; note: this might go to behind their subscription wall soon…). Redemption rates are reported to be good: they say they’ve been seeing them at 15%, which is a whopping 3x that recorded for old-fashioned paper vouchers.

Besides the usual critical mass and all I suppose it comes down to mainly two points then: more information about the line one must not cross in respect of bombarding consumers with advertising and retail brands picking up on the mobile screen as an advertising and indeed customer retention tool in earnest (so far, most of what we are seeing are trials or fashion-driven PR affairs). Given that there are more mobile phones in the world than toothbrushes, this should be a no-brainer! And with customization and segmentation of the customer base increasing by user, a very targeted approach should be possible. This is something Cellfire clearly realizes: they do not share phone numbers… Well done, them.