The launch and massive success of Apple's iPhone has attracted a lot of attention to new ways of using mobiles, and since it excells in many areas it may be difficult to spot exactly which feature that really holds the key to the gate of a paradigm shift in mobile marketing.
The iPhone's App Store, where you can buy and download applications that extend the use of your device almost inifinitely, has gained such popularity that it already beats Apples own online music store, iTunes, in terms of download volume. By October 2008, Apple had sold 200 million applications. Of course, other brands are keen to take part in that game too, and Windows Mobile, Blackberry and Palm have all got their own take on the App Store.
So why do I predict this will be the hub of the new mobile marketing wheel?
- Because it moves the users focus from what the device is capable of doing out of the box to what it can be doing in the future. The mobile phone is hence changing from being an object in itself to a platform. The object itself is saturated with technology, we want to fill it with new content and new ways to use it.
What this means is that the mobile phone is not essentially about telephony anymore, it's about providing you with what you need to be connected when you are on the move.
Open platform, open mind
Putting a camera and a music player into the phone were fairly obvious choices since these were already small devices you carried in your pocket, but what these new iPhones, HTCs, Blackberrys and Androids will do for you is only in it's infancy of innovation. The genius of the App Store and it's siblings is the open platform for development. Anyone can make and sell their programs there, and hence the collective fantasy of application creators around the world will make sure you'll get anything you wish for.
Did I mention the words "break through"? So will there be a big bang? As a marketer, will you miss the train if you're not ready yet?
No. It won't be the one big thing that suddenly everyone is doing. It will be a million small things. You will need to know who you are talking to and how they communicate and use their mobile devices. But when you do find the right tool, chances are that you will make a much stronger connection with your users than with any other channel. Why? Because if you are on their mobile, you are always with them. And that may be a little big bang just for you!