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.
Many recent innovations in the mobile space are led by new entrants such as Apple or Google. However, let's be fair with telcos. They invest significant amounts of money in R&D and have very creative staff. There has been some skepticism in the industry on selected Orange services such as Pikeo, Djinngo (ex Bubbletop) or Soundtribes where Orange was trying to "reinvent the wheel" without partnering with the right Internet players. However, these services have never been really marketed and does not prevent strategic partnerships to be signed. Orange in particular has many Orange Labs worldwide and is driving innovation.
I saw recently some interesting demos of products and services to be launched by Orange:
I confess I spent much of a recent illness on the couch watching movies and catching up on TV shows. I still claim it was time spent on your behalf, gentle reader, because in the process I put some of my video gadgets to the test, trying to see which one would earn the majority of my viewing. I post the results in greater detail on my OmniVideo blog, feel free to read that post to find out which box I like best and why. But what I found more interesting than which box occupied my time, was the realization that I am starting to develop specific habits for meeting my content needs.
Here's what I mean: Imagine you feel an urge to watch some video right now, this very instant. What are the first two or three ways you imagine satisfying that need? Okay, go ahead and imagine you're at home if you're not, so you'll have some options to consider. Here are some options that may come to mind:
The theme for my speech at Forrester’s marketing forum on April 23-24 in Orlando this year is that the down economy is actually the *right* time to catalyze marketing change.Instead of hunkering down and trying just to maintain marketing status quo, my assertion is that marketers should actually take risks during the recession.
One of the major themes this year has involved how to tap
international markets without spending a fortune. While spending on
international initiatives continues to grow - some 60% of US online businesses with a global presence plan to increase web spending in 2009 vs. just 42%
of those with only a domestic footprint - there is a renewed focus on how and where this spending is being allocated (see our report on Global Website Spending). Retailers in particular have looked for ways to be innovative
in overseas markets while keeping budgets in check. A few examples of cost-conscious
initiatives that have come up recently in conversations:
Last week, Jeremiah Owyang, an analyst on the Interactive Marketing team that I manage, caught flak for comments that he made on his personal blog about the community vendor Mzinga. As you might expect, we both have been communicating with Mzinga's Chairman Barry Libert and other members of his team. At the same time, Jeremiah has been reflecting on the conversation begun by the post. So have I.
Warning - This may be the most trivial thing I've ever blogged. Stop reading now if you're looking for insights into customer experience, business strategy or anything of value really.
A few months back I started to use Twitter in earnest. (Before that, I only ever tweeted that I was updating Twitter, but some serious people started to follow my tweets and the joke wore thin).
I have to confess, I still don't know why I should Tweet. I do it because I feel a need to be involved with new media and it's there and it doesn't take up much time. However, I don't derive great pleasure from it and it hasn't altered the way I behave... at least, nothing like as much as Digg, Facebook, Delicious, iGoogle and other social media did. Things got easier when I started to use Tweetdeck instead of Twitter's web interface. Pretty soon I intend to download a solution to my mobile device, so that I can take snaps, post them to Twitpic or Flickr and I guess it would be easier still if I used some software to automate Tweets like Guy Kawasaki and other ueber-Twitterers seem to, but that doesn't feel right to me.
More experienced Twitterers, like my colleague Jeremiah, have spent time to work out how firms can use the medium to engage with customers and promote their brands.