To app or not to app?

When devising a strategy for the mobile space, marketers are faced with many questions but one of the questions on the tip of marketers tongues is should I invest in an iPhone application? With iPhone popularity at all time high in Australia, building an iPhone application seems to be a no brainer however before you jump into the app space here is some food for thought on the app market.

The facts about applications

Mobile appsOver the past few years iPhone developers have been busy developing iPhone applications and as a result more than 140,000 iPhone applications are now available from the Apple apps store and these have been downloaded over 3 billion times. In 2010 the onslaught of iPhone application development is only set to accelerate with more than 300,000 applications to be in the apps store by years end. And whilst application supply is high so is demand. In December 2009, app store users downloaded an average of 4.8 applications – ¼ of which are paid.

Considerations for app marketing

1. Not all apps are created equal

With this level of interest and activity it would seem at first glance that an iPhone application can be a very lucrative opportunity. Building an iPhone application however can be an expensive exercise therefore brands need to ensure that investment in the channel will deliver results . Similar to video not all applications are created equal, and with over 140,000 applications in the app store how is your branded app going to stand out from the crowd?

The BigOven application is one example of a successful app which received over 2 million downloads globally, however many struggle to get a few hundred downloads. Thus if you are considering to invest in an application there is a lot more to it than simply replicating your website to ensure you gain value from your investment. Consider how your app is going to get people talking, how app functionality can add value / augment the brand experience and how to leverage technology such as GPS to deliver a unique offering.

2. Consumers APPetite

Whilst cut through is difficult for any marketer, it doesn’t mean that application marketing cannot produce value. One of the key reasons organisations should consider investment in an application is that a portion of your audience will prefer to interact with your brand via an app whilst others prefer access via a mobile site. By failing to invest in an application, even if you have a mobile site, you maybe failing to appeal to a portion of your audience and this could be impact your mobile reach. Thus to make an informed decision brands need to understand their audience behaviour and mobile usage before making crucial mobile development decisions.

How new smartphones could revolutionise the application market.

SmartphonesiPhone’s popularity in Australia is hard to ignore but what many marketers may be unaware of is the battle brewing between iPhone and Android. Globally (according to AdMob), Google’s Android operating system has overtaken iPhones share in the smartphone market for the 1st time but will this occur locally? A recent survey I performed indicated users next mobile phone decision is strongly swayed towards iPhone, however there are other factors that could make the outcome of the next handset choice very different.

Android is working with a lot of the major carriers / handset manufacturers in Australia and globally to secure marketshare. Telstra is one that is launching its HTC desire, and to ensure a successful launch they have crowdsourced 26 social reviewers to blog on its launch. Also sitting on the android platform is Sony Ericsson’s Xperia X10, which arrived on the Vodafone and Three networks in May, whilst last month saw the launch of Motorola Dext on the Android platform as well.
So not only do marketers need to toss up the value of iPhone applications, they need to be consider if the application will be accessible via multiple app stores.

Operating System Share in US


What are your thoughts on application marketing? Have you had success with an iPhone strategy? If so share it below.

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