You may have seen the Scion iQ ads that make the tiny four-seater–world’s smallest according to billboards around San Francisco, where parking is always at a premium–seem like a dream to park. My favorite of these ads (embedded above) shows two iQs fitting into one regular-car space. For people (like me!) who live on driveway-plagued streets, the iQ would be a perfect fit for those pesky not-quite-car-sized gaps between driveways. The iQ is a great solution to a big problem with city driving: too many cars; not enough space.
As cars get smaller and evolve more sophisticated technology, including remote parking, there will always remain one major issue: parking itself. Even the smallest cars take up space, and even the most dedicated commuters aren’t in their vehicles for more than a fraction of the day. That makes for millions of vehicles requiring millions of square feet of space on our streets and in our garages every hour of every day. Parking is the automobile’s insurmountable problem. Public transit eases it to some extent, though buses and trains must still be parked; bikes fit almost anywhere for free. But anything you take to get somewhere has to go somewhere else when you’re not using it.
Plenty of companies are evolving to make car transit more efficient: Zipcar provides wheels only when you need them; Zimride allows users to share space in their vehicles. But all of these cars still need to be parked. No amount of in-vehicle technology can overcome this hurdle.
There is a similar, seemingly insurmountable, size-related problem in mobile: screen space. No matter the technologies we evolve, mobile devices must inevitably be small enough to carry around with us and manipulate with our hands. This means that the mobile screen can likely never be as big as we want it to be.
But is the minimal amount of mobile screen space available a problem, or an opportunity? Making mobile messages can force a brand to identify what is truly important. Rather than a 50-page whitepaper or a 100-page website, a brand considering a mobile approach needs to come up with a streamlined message that really addresses consumer needs, and fits in the mobile screen space offered. The brand also needs to ensure that that message is adaptable to different form factors, from iPhone to iPad and everything in between. Finally, the brand also needs to offer an interactive component, giving customers a say in the matter.
Limited mobile screen space ideally has the outcome of making messaging more effective. And we can all agree that’s a good thing, as we circle the block looking for an opening in the limited space of the parking world.