How the iPhone Will Change Mobile Marketing

This is a summary of a project I was working on for a class.

iPhone takes smart phones mainstream
Smart phones – Blackberries and Treos – have always been popular among business users because of their email and web capabilities. But the design aesthetics and costs have deterred the typical cell phone user from switching over. The capabilities were desired, but not in that packaging. But the iPhone got it right.

And in the process of getting it right, it helped turn users towards the larger category of smart phones in general. Blackberry reported an increase in sales after the release of the iPhone. And from our survey, all iPhone users swear to never go back to a normal cell phone. People are now in tune with a smarter, more dynamic mobile experience.

Increased functionality = intense usage behavior
While all smart phones have increased functionality, the iPhone made took the idea mainstream to the average consumer. The study found that the increased functionality of the iPhone lead to intense usage behaviors. Users described the iPhone as “a computer that happens to make phone calls” and also stating that “everyday is like getting a new phone…with all the third party apps.” Obviously, there is an opportunity to engage people through the phones, but through very specific terms of engagement.

The brand is the phone and the phone is the brand
That observation infers that if a brand wants to engage a user on their mobile device, that they have to also take the route of increased functionality. Typically, a brand would engage through the phone (like a media channel) to get to the consumer. However, there is an opportunity to transform the phone experience into a brand experience. It’s a daring proposition that suggests that a brand should take over the phone, but done in a way that adds value.

Terms of engagement
Applications or widgets are an effective way to engage people on their phones. Small pieces of software are effective in changing the phone experience into brand experience. Also, software is designed and structured in a way to deliver on function. A couple of cues to consider when designing applications or widgets for mobile marketing campaigns:

All about utility, not story – stories do very little in terms of creating function. It’s counter-intuitive thinking in the communications business, but it’s one that will create applications that will last longer.

Start with the client’s product idea – often times we create concepts to layer on top of the product to sell it. However, applications have the potential to becoming business building opportunities. The closer the application is tied to the product the more relevant it is for the user.

Insights for usage/design not feel/think – for the sake of usability, planners have to consider insights that will inspire how the application will work and how people will use it.

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