Apple has done it yet again. According to the Q1 2010 results (source), consumers snapped up 8.7 Million iPhone devices this past quarter. While a few mobile market analysts feel that Apple missed their sales target (BTW, some expected sales to reach the 9 Million to 11 Million units mark), the growth of the iPhone still represents a healthy 100% increase in sales in comparison to the same quarter last year.
In my discussions with Marketers, I’m regularly asked whether iPhone app development or iPhone mobile campaigns make sense considering the dominance of rival smartphone devices such as RIM’s BlackBerry. There’s valid concern if you consider only the number of mobile devices but that number isn’t as important when you consider usage. While RIM currently outsells Apple in smartphone devices (RIM sold 10.1 million devices in the quarter ending November 28, 2009 whereas Apple sold 7.4 million iPhones in about the same period), the iPhone accounted for 60% of page views AND 75% of mobile revenue at the top online retailers this past holiday season according to Omniture (source). So while BlackBerry devices are more prevalent, users avoid using this device to browse the web. This decision is likely based on the poor web browsing experience. And Marketers that are considering the accessibility of their website should optimize it for the iPhone.
So Marketers that want to interact with the largest group of mobile users should first focus on the iPhone platform — nothing else compares. But besides usage, Apple provides plenty of additional reasons for why the iPhone platform will also win in the long run:
The current quarter’s iPhone unit sales numbers exclude the 55% year-over-year growth in sales of the iPod Touch. The iPod Touch is a Wifi-enabled mobile device that supports many of the iPhone applications. The iPod Touch user segment represent a group that is not bound by telephony service but are still connected (likely to be a younger demographic).
Sales growth was driven by strong global demand. This implies that marketers can now expose their application/campaign or brand to an international audience (while facing the challenges that come with such a relationship).
With the introduction of the iPhone 3GS, demand for the iPhone has spilled from the consumer market over to the enterprise market. Apple reported that 70% of the Fortune 200 are either deploying or piloting the iPhone. While marketers may have previously focused on the business to consumer or B-to-C market segment, they now have an opportunity to create applications that address the needs of the business to business or B-to-B market.
Apple continues to invest heavily in customer service, whether it is through training of mobile carriers on device or one-on-one coaching of new customers at their 283 stores (currently present in 10 countries). This is a critical tactic for Apple to attract and service an older demographic of users that may not be as comfortable with touch-based technologies.
The numbers did not account for the upcoming product introduction of a tablet-like device. This highly anticipated announcement is expected tomorrow but the value of this news is that Apple will give marketers yet another device that will support mobile applications. The segment of the users that select and use this device is still unknown but it is potentially a new group of untapped users.
Lastly, Apple has completed two recent acquisitions: music streaming service Lala and mobile advertising platform Quattro. Both represent the company’s continued future-looking view on revenue generation and demands.
Apple seems to be benefiting from a positive feedback loop. While the iPhone does have its flaws (it is not a perfect mobile device!), Apple has built an elegant smartphone unit that is extremely user-friendly. Additionally, iPhone users regularly promote their smartphone to other non-users in their social circles so the masses are choosing iPhone when deciding to go mobile (source). For brands that are still on the sidelines or ones that are only focused on the alternatives (which is a mistake; source), there’s no better time than now to jump on the iPhone platform bandwagon.
UPDATE: I recently spoke with Joel @Rapleaf and he clarified that the data that Rapleaf collects is not used to deny individuals credit. Instead the information is only used by the marketing departments to target potential customers (source).
While Twitter is free social media tool, there’s a price that one pays for tweeting. For example, there are plenty of good incidents caused by an embarrassing celebrity tweet (source). Aside from Hollywood celebrities, we’ve also had a local incident where a VP at the Atlanta PR firm Ketchum mistakenly used Twitter to exclaim that he “would die” if he had to live in Memphis while visiting his client, FedEx (source). This was a problem since Memphis is where FedEx is headquartered. Talk about a real Homer Simpson “Doh!” moment.
Until now, the price of tweeting was simply facing temporary ridicule and a small boo-boo to your online reputation. But that’s all changed now that data-mining firm Rapleaf announced that they collect data from Twitter to determine if you’re credit worthy demographics data in the public domain that’s exposed through social networking sites. According to an article in Fortune Magazine (source), the people that you “hang out” with can be used to determine if you’ll pay your bill on time. Yikes!
As a regular user of Twitter and Facebook, I’m less worried about what I say because I’m well aware that my statements are in the public domain. But, I’m reconsidering who I’m planning to follow or be-friend online. As a social networking contributor, you should consider whether you’re willing to allow a social networking site to expose that information to a search engine, like Google.
I guess that the quip “Be slow in choosing your friends” rings true.
A rumor started to circulate early yesterday that Apple and Microsoft are engaged in discussions over the displacement of Google search on the iPhone. According to BusinessWeek (source), Apple is considering using Bing as the search engine on the iPhone. The reasons that the authors gave for this move included:
This was a financially motivated decision. Microsoft was offering Apple a bigger revenue slice of the advertising pie for incorporate Bing than Google.
This was an effort to thwart Google’s recent jump into mobile. It seemed that Google was moving in on Apple’s territory with their introduction of the Nexus One device.
While some may buy into this rumor, there’s very little reason to believe it. Here’s why:
Apple is in the business of designing beautiful devices with exceptional user-experience for the consumer market. Google has dominant position in the web search market. Google reached this point by creating a simple, user-friendly search engine so having Google Search on the iPhone makes for a perfect match. While Google may not want to share more of their search revenue, they’ve bowed to the pressure of News Corp owner Rupert Murdoch when he proclaimed in November 2009 that Google was stealing his paid content (source) and that he would switch to Bing if he had no other option.
Regarding the competitive threat, there are two reasons that Apple may not be worried. First, John Paczkowski of AllThingsDigital wrote about a rumor that Microsoft is planning to release a Zune Phone in the next couple of months (source). In case you’re wondering, this rumor originally surfaced back in late 2008 (source) but this is the FIRST time that there’s thought that the phone will be pink. Currently, there’s no proof that Microsoft or any other phone/mobile OS marker is going to magically recapture Apple’s market share with their mobile offering. This rings true considering that Nexus One sales estimates reached a paltry 20,000 in the first week of offering according to mobile analytics service Flurry (source). If the Zune rumor is taken as fact, then Microsoft is a rival to Apple as much as is Google so there’s no real rush/need to switch.
In my opinion, it feels more like Apple is playing a good game of chicken with Google and Microsoft is just caught in between.