Every year around this time, the world braces itself for what Apple will do next. With rumors running amok for the past 9 months, Apple’s new iPhone is predicted to be the most popular ever. With changes to the port, screen size, resolution, and Siri all expected to be announced on September 12th, Apple’s iPhone is less about the new device and more about how the general public embraces mobile technology and what that means for marketers.
I’ve written before on the exaggeration of opportunities in mobile marketing and have in the past claimed that people just weren’t ready for it. After hearing for the past 4 years that ‘This is the year of mobile marketing’, I’ve remained confident that the United States is just not ready to interact with brands on their cell phones the way marketers want them to.
Smart phones are a direct connection to the consumer. It’s not a commercial they can ignore. It integrates ads and advertising into the very function of their lives. It brings it into a very real space that thrives on direct response – using a device built for just that. As we see an increase in the ability of smart-phones through the development of applications and/or from the innovations in hardware, the ability of users to create, curate, and interact with marketable content dramatically increases.
To this day, most websites are not yet optimized for mobile. Within those that are, we still see many done terribly and fail to understand user engagement and intention on such a device. Phones and networks are also too slow in many cases and often frustrating, thus a marketer must account not only for changes in intention, but for the willingness and patience of the consumer as well.
This could all change very soon though. Not just with the iPhone. While Apple’s iconic device consumes a large part of the market, it more importantly sets a benchmark at which other devices are measured. Thus, the possibilities of mobile marketing will only go as far as Apple is willing to push its next device. At this point, other manufacturers will either follow suit, improve on what Apple has done, or simply market their device that has long contained a feature Apple has neglected.
Next week there will be two additional launches to look out for, as all major operating systems will be launching flagship devices going into the Christmas season. On September 5th, Nokia and Microsoft will announce the new Windows 8 phone. Seen by many as a massive upgrade to the previous OS, Windows 8 has already consumed a significant marketing budget. Made with handheld devices in mind, Windows 8 promises to integrate as well as it performs. While we do not know what network this device will launch on, all major US carriers now have 4G at the helm. Whether it’s be on the super fast 4G LTE of Verizon and AT&T or the lesser, LTE seems to correct the network and speed issues that are often an obstacle for many smart-phone users as well as marketers.
Not to be outdone, September 5th is also the date of the Motorola and Verizon announcement. They are expected to announce their new flagship device; the Motorola Razr HD. Officially choosing not to pick up any of the HTC One X handsets, Verizon’s smart-phone lineup has been less than popular. Riddled by repeat devices with minor variations, Verizon has failed to pick up a worthy top level device in quite some time. They’ve had a year of ‘misses’ and this new device for them will save their holiday season.
More importantly this new Droid will run on Verizon’s 4G LTE network, bringing lighting fast speeds. With a better camera, faster processor, and improved social networking integration, the Verizon flagship device along with the Windows 8 phone and new iPhone could propel mobile marketing over the hump its encountered. While 4G is not new, all major carriers having flagship devices running off this network sets the precedent.
By Motorola and Nokia releasing their devices a week earlier than Apple, it allows them to dominate the press for a full week, rather than competing for press with the iPhone. If past trends repeat themselves, talk of the iPhone will dominate the web for 2-3 weeks after its release. If they waited until it died down in order to release their devices, they risk losing customers to those that couldn’t wait and opted for the Apple device instead. They’ve made this mistake before. By releasing their devices before, they ensure that Apple faces the highest possible competition for its device.
The issue of slow speed and small screens will no longer be an issue once these flagship devices ‘standardize’ the market. If marketers get everything they want, the rumors of the inclusion of NFC or near field communication chips in these devices will prove of unlimited value and are sure to bring about some very interesting marketing campaigns. 2013. It just could really be the year of mobile marketing. We’ll see…