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  • Writer's pictureRick Julian

Mobile Marketing: Bet on the iPhone

I don’t need to tell you the iPhone is the hottest mobile device on the planet. The media has done a perfectly good job of documenting that fact. What may be less heralded is the magnitude of its impact on your mobile marketing initiatives, and the remarkable depth and quality of experience it will offer your mobile site’s visitors.

For those of you who own iPhones, you know that it delivers the almost exact experience of online browsing that your laptop and desktop computers do. For those of you who don’t, here’s why: because the iPhone actually uses the same browser as its larger brethren: Safari, and because the iPhone is an actual computer vs. a cell phone that is trying to emulate a computer’s web browsing abilities. The only significant difference is screen size.

Let’s look at the iPhone’s numbers regarding market share, mobile browser usage, their trends, and the future they portend.

First, market share:

As this graph shows, since its launch in June of 2007, the iPhone has garnered almost 20% of the smart phone market. Impressive performance for any electronic device, but especially so for a brand new entrant into the relatively mature cellphone market–with high levels of installed users who had to pay a significant premium to switch to the iPhone. Now let’s examine the disproportionate mobile browser usage this 20% represents


In simplest terms: 20% of all users are consuming nearly 50% of the mobile browsing pie.

Add to this the iPhone’s rate of market share growth: a nearly 300% increase in less than a year, and the evidence of the growing opportunity this device represents becomes rather persuasive.

So what does this mean to you? What strategy and tactics should this data inspire?

Here are a few predictions and recommendations:

1. Expect +60% of all mobile browser traffic to be iPhone centric by the end of Q1 2009.

2. The rumored pay-as-you-go Nano iPhone with a targeted price of around $100 which is expected for the 2008 holiday buying season will be very popular among youth who were previously unable to afford iPhones, and will extend rich mobile marketing experiences into this important demographic.

3. Optimize conception, design, and development of mobile marketing assets for the iPhone: video, games, sites, widgets, video/music ringbacks. This will provide the richest user experience for the broadest base of early adopter users who are most likely to evangelize brands. Subsequently, adapt this content for less sophisticated mobile devices. We recommend against (exclusive) lowest common denominator development when platform adoption trends so strongly favor the iPhone.

4. Contender devices which feature similar mobile web browsing and smart phone capabilities will enter the market, and will likely emulate the features and technologies that have made the iPhone so successful. This will simply extend reach of iPhone optimized, browser oriented assets to those devices’ populations.

5. The iPhone’s browser is but one destination for your mobile marketing initiatives. Apple’s App Store may represent an equally significant opportunity: offering consumers branded applications. Since its introduction a month ago, there have already been 60 million free and paid-for downloads, generating $1m a day in sales, and the store could crack the half-billion dollar mark within a year of opening. As of Thursday, August 21 , there were 2,142 applications officially available for the iPhone. The App Store offers a wonderful, easy-to-use mass market conduit for delivering applications to consumers, and as of this date, if your application is free, there is no charge to use this distribution mechanism. (Don’t count on this freebie lasting forever.) For paid-for applications, Apple offers a 30/70 revenue split with developers.

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