Five-minute interview: Rob Lawson, Limbo

Founded in 2005, Limbo has three million users in the US, making it one of the largest and fastest-growing mobile communities. It recently expanded its operation into 200 countries. Limbo members use the mobile web to broadcast to friends what they’re doing and where they are, socialize and play games against each other.

Before Limbo, Rob Lawson co-founded mobile advertising firm Enpocket, now part of Nokia.

1. What is your favorite / least favorite mobile website?
Favorite: the BBC . It’s not the prettiest or the most interactive, but if you want good news fast, it’s hard to beat. I also need to know the football scores often. I’ve used it for at least eight years.

Least favorite: I get very infuriated when I get a standard website on my iPhone, when I know there is a phone-optimized site on a different URL.

2. What can the rest of us learn from these sites?
BBC: They strip out all the fluff, have simple and clear navigation, minimal graphics, which makes it quick to load and navigate.

Least: Just because a phone can render a full web page, doesn’t mean it is a great experience. A bare bones xhtml page on an iPhone isn’t always pretty, but it is always more usable.

3. Who is the new kid on the block – the mobile site to watch for the future?
I’m not sure, but I do like the Netvibes iPhone site.

4. What sector would you say is furthest ahead in mobile marketing?
I think the information providers – news companies, search companies, online portals, search – are leading.

5. What can the rest of us learn from the information sector?
Present the core of what you do, optimized for the small screen. Less is more.
Think like Google did when users still had 56k modems. Consistent navigation helps users to stay in control.

6. What’s the most exciting / inspirational place in the world for mobile marketing?
I love some of the things from Japan and Korea – mobile payments and quick response [QR] codes are exciting. However I’m also a huge believer in SMS. It’s still massively important for consumers in the GSM world and so I think it needs to be massively important for marketers also. Getting your brand into 160 characters of text is hard, but amazingly powerful when read by the consumer.

7. What can the rest of us learn from Japan and Korea?
I think the key wherever you are is to follow consumers. Watch what consumers do with their phones, and then work out how to leverage that behavior in your campaigns. Marketing that tries to get people to adopt new technology on their phones might look cool, but I can’t think of an example where it’s ever been successful.

8. What’s the most exciting area of mobile marketing?
Location-based services : The mobile is by definition mobile, so knowing where it is unlocks huge marketing opportunity. When we truly leverage location-based mobile marketing will be bigger than online.

9. Which mobile-marketing guru would you like to do our five-minute interview next?
Jeremy Wright, Nokia.

Which mobi guru would you like see interviewed next? Comment below or email editor (at)

Other mobiThinking five-minute interviews:

  • Edward Kershaw, Nielsen Online
  • Rory Sutherland, Ogilvy
  • Juston Payne, Wiley
  • Tomi Ahonen (consultant, author)
  • Alexandre Mars, Phonevalley
  • And don’t miss:

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