Last week, the number of downloads to Apple's iPhones and iPod Touches finally topped one billion. That is an impressive number coming from approximately 30 million devices in the market.
The word "iPhone" in the title of any newspaper article or otherwise turns heads and sells. I would offer, however, that the impact of the iPhone and its potential have been under-hyped. I believe that the impact on the industry is comparable to that of SMS. May not seem that way today, but it will in the course of time.
Here is a partial list of what it has accomplished so far. Apple has:
- Taught carriers that they don't need to own the end customer experience to profit from those customers.
- Demonstrated that consumers will pay for an experience that is unique and extraordinary.
- Shown carriers that they do well serving the average customer, but aren't equipped to serve each segment best.
- Taught consumers how to download applications to their cell phones.
- Taught consumers that their cell phones could do more than voice calls or text messaging
- Created a platform and a business model that is truly compelling to developers.
- Taught US consumers what "3G" is and accelerated demand for it.
- Weren't afraid to leverage their existing 60+ million billing relationships
- Shown us we don't need "open" for a great consumer experience
- Have ever consumer brand in the country thinking they need an iPhone application
I look forward to 3.0 and its possibilities. I don't think enough is being said about what Apple has achieved.
Ok, I admit that I used the word "iPhone" in the title to seek attention, but it is true. My first experiences with Stanza were on my iPhone. A friend suggested that I download the application. Free download. I often asked, "what is the business model?" Selling the technology is one possibility. The creators of Stanza have made a lot of money on an iPhone application. See release.
More seriously, it is an interesting play for Amazon. Heavy users of a service/function on a portable device - whether a PND, MP3 player, etc. - lean towards buying dedicated devices. I have a Kindle, and I love it. I have the Kindle application on my iPhone, but I don't use it. Casual users of these services will buy and use devices that are multi-purpose. Moreover, users don't want to worry about file formats. Lexcycle fills in some of these gaps.
Content players need distribution, content strategies and business models that span the range of portable devices. Adoption outside of laptops and cell phones is limited today, but devices such as portable media players, netbooks, etc. are filling in the space in-between.
Mobile strategies extend beyond a cell phone presence - more so for media companies today than those in other industries.
Think back to mid-nineties. How many of you had cell phones? They were more of a luxury item for most of us. Towards the end of the nineties they became a nice-to-have. Now, if you walk out the door and you don't have your phone, you go back inside and get it.
In the mean time, cell phones have become pervasive in regions around the world where no one thought the economics would make sense. When I visited western Kenya in 1996, I met some Masai warriors - a group of nomads living much as they did 200 years ago. They have herds of cows and goats. They live in huts with no running water or electricity.
When I returned 10 years later in 2006, they were still living in huts without running water or electricity. However, they all had cell phones and were using them to make phone calls, send text messages, etc.
Cell phones are no longer used simply for talking or texting in Africa let alone in the US, Asia and Europe where we have access to high speed wireless networks and affordable data plans. Cell phones are changing the lives of your customers. You need a strategy to engage with them on their cell phones.