While new technologies are introduced daily, every now and then a technology comes along that truly revolutionizes peoples behaviors, attitudes, decisions and lives. Take a moment to think about how the DVR and HDTV changed the TV experience – I mean come on…who really watched those colorful nature shows on the Discovery Channel before HDTV?
Well, June 29th, 2007 was one of those days, as it marked the change of mobile web forever. What happened on that summer Friday you ask? The iPhone!
The New York Times site on the iPhone.
Put aside the fact that nearly 1.0MM units were sold in the first week. After experiencing the iPhone first hand, (yes some of us were fortunate enough to have recieved ours the first day) we can honestly say mobile web will never be the same. Seeing what this gizmo is capable of, leads us to believe there will no longer be the need for WAP sites to exist (talk about single-handedly changing an entire industry in one fell swoop).
Forget all the hype and buzz about the pros and cons. This topic of this conversation is not even about a phone. It’s about a device that will change consumer behavior and portable content as we know it.
When putting this single thought into context, not only will the implications of this device have a direct impact on mobile web, but consider all the other businesses/models that have or will be affected – Distribution, Marketing, Promotion, and on the list goes.
Consider this – prior to the release of the iPhone, the general consumer experience to purchase a new mobile phone consisted of going to a store, signing over rights to your first born child and literally wasting an entire afternoon – not anymore. The experience in buying the iPhone was seamless from the get-go. you purchase the phone in a store, or now online (literally a :60 sec credit card transaction), and then activate the phone (including the transfer of your phone number from a different carrier) through iTunes in a matter of 3 minutes. This kind of user experience is what is generally forgotten (ignored?) by the wireless companies themselves in their haste to win the battle over 2 percent of the market. Apple’s influence here is evident – the experience of the product begins with the environment in which your purchase it.
Because of the iPhone’s real web browser feature, users can experience web sites the way they would on their computer. That means no longer do marketers need to create promotions that require WAP sites or special mobile elements. what is good for the computer is good for the phone. Now an opportunity exists to create integrated, cross platform, web based, mobile solutions without compromise, a benefit for both marketers and their customers.
For years publishers have pitched the notion of “portable content” as being able to access digital content anywhere. We create Widgets, Gadgets, and RSS feeds to enable customized information and while some of these technologies offer mobile components, they are clunky and not very user friendly. Now consider a custom widget for your iPhone, which enables a true wireless “always connected”, visually appealing experience which by the way, includes all the most important information relevant to ME! (NOTE: While Apple has yet to announce additional software as of this posting they have distributed the developer’s guide which will allow developers to begin working on new compatible software.)
While most smartphones enable many of these technologies to happen, none have come close to creating an experience such as the iPhone. That’s the best part about this story – its about an innovative company who took technologies that already existed for years, and packaged them in a way for even the most “non-savvy” individual to enjoy, creating an entirely new market opportunity for various industries in the process.
The question now is: as a marketer in the digital world, what marketing innovations can we bring to this environment that will enhance consumer experiences and maximize the value of our brands?