The iPhone developers were walking around the office yesterday with smiles on their faces. Not only was it Friday but news spread that the iOS terms of service drama was over. In case you missed it, Apple reversed course on the decision to force developers into using Xcode/Objective-C. They issued a press release that outlined new terms that allow developers to:
Use third party development platforms, such as MonoTouch and Appcelerator, to create iPhone applications. In a blog post on the decision, Jeff Haynie signaled that Appcelerator was in the clear and thanked developers for their continued support.
Use mobile advertising platforms other than iAds/Quattro. Google was also gushing about the new terms of service and how the mobile community will benefit by having multiple platforms in the mix.
Use third party mobile analytics platforms, such as flurry, motally (now owned by Nokia) and Distimo.
On the third point however, the new terms reinforced the need for developers to respect user privacy. Continue reading →
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.
Google announced yesterday a 7% uptick in revenue growth for the quarter ending September 30, 2009, compared with the quarter a year ago. Google also used the earnings announcement to signal that the downward pressures from the recession appears to be subsiding. While the earnings call primarily focused on revenue and search trends, Google executives also discussed mobile marketing in detail (sources: Q3 2009 earnings call transcript and Extended Q&A Call Transcript). Here are some points that I wanted to highlight about the trends in mobile marketing:
Mobile search is experiencing a quarter-over-quarter growth rate of 30% in Q3 2009. The current momentum in mobile adoption is resulting in a simple pile-on effect. Demand for mobile is surging on the data side: according to a recent report by CTIA (source), wireless data service revenue is up nearly 40% in the past 6 months of 2009 (ending in September). Consumers adoption of smart phones is finally expanding; they are seeing how these devices simplify their life and enable them to be more productivity while away from the internet connected laptop or desktop. With these devices, they can easily communicate with their friends via text and research locations and/or products while in transit.
Mobile advertising offers Marketers a novel touchpoint to engage consumers. While Google executives admit that search volume is still light in comparison to other mediums, marketers are extending their campaigns to these devices because they can expose the consumer to one additional message. This is important because today’s advertisers need to smack consumers with multiple touchpoints to effectively wrangle a behavior out of them, like a purchase. Since advertising is still fairly new on these devices, Google executives claim that mobile advertisements are more effective at driving clicks. While it is understandable that consumers may find these ads more engaging, I’m hoping to find data on the effectiveness of the ad beyond the click. [NOTE: If you have some, please share!].
Marketers need to match the message to the mode when they interact with a consumer on a mobile device. A few big brands are toying with mobile commerce. For example, Starbucks recently released a mobile application that allows consumers to buy a coffee via an iPhone. While Starbucks seems to have found a gem of an idea, Google executives confirm that there are currently a limited number of applications that can engage a consumer on a mobile device. This is partly attributed to the consumer being in a different mindset or mode when they are on their smart phone. They are basically “snacking” on information. Additionally, Marketers need to recognize that their mobile message needs to be different than their email message because of the wide range of technology support on these devices.
Mobile is not going away. The final point that Google made is that they’re going to continue their investment in their mobile platform Android. Google has plenty of cash on hand so Marketers that are thinking that mobile marketing has no future should reconsider. While mobile advertising is still in its infancy state, it seems to be maturing at a rapid clip so marketers should not ignore the power of mobile.