This is the first time in three years that I didn’t attend the Macworld Expo as an ”esteemed” (if you call being corralled and herded like cattle a symbol of esteem) member of the press. But that’s given me a clearer perspective of Apple’s technological advancements and what they mean in the digital communications space.
I’ll admit, I often found the special guest performers at Apple events more interesting than most of the ”news” (I still remember having to explain to people around me that, uh, Kanye West was kinda famous, although John Legend managed to get the Philistines on their feet). Ironically, by not attending Macworld I’ve been able to focus on Apple’s announcements – reading news reports, without the excitement of the audience to sway or jade me, and then taking the time to figure out the big picture.
Bottom line? Apple is getting Americans to embrace mobile messaging the way no other handset maker or any cellular providers could. I touched on this a few weeks ago, talking about Apple’s mobile commerce possibilities. But it goes beyond Apple making futuristic technology seem accessible. Instead, Apple is getting people excited over the mundane. And possibly converting luddites into users of mobile tech.
”Send SMS to multiple people!” was one major iPhone upgrade. To the mobile-savvy, this was like saying, ”Now our automobile comes with a stereo!” Pretty much every cell phone has that ability, while marketing platforms like mobileStorm’s Stun! takes it to new levels.
It’s easy to laugh, but that’s a short-sighted attitude if you want to increase SMS consumer penetration. Thing is, many on this continent is still trying to get into SMS. They probably don’t know how to text multiple people. Apple, the consumer-friendliest gadget maker of them all, subtly lets them in on this cool feature. Maybe now they’ll start using SMS to invite friends to events, update relatives of family news, or merely say ”Happy Holidays” to everyone at once. Anything to get more people texting more often is a good thing, especially if it makes them agreeable to receiving such messages – a key factor for mobile marketing to succeed.
That iPhone can now be equipped for location mapping, using Wi-Fi positioning technology, is another example of getting the masses psyched over the (somewhat) mundane. True, lots of smartphones come with GPS – including Hewlett-Packard’s iPaq, notable since HP’s managed to make its computers hip and could compete with Apple in the hipster-on-a-budget space. However, with its star power Apple has the ability to get non-technophiles excited about using location-based services.
While we are still a bit far away from true location-based SMS marketing – like a coffeehouse sending a text to consumers based on their location, offering a discount latte if they just walk up the street – this iPhone upgrade gets us ever so closer to that becoming a reality.
Apple’s strength hasn’t necessarily been new ideas. It’s been taking languishing ideas to a whole new level. Look at what the iPod did for digital music players. Now imagine what it could do for mobile marketing. The latest iPhone upgrades might not mean significantly more people will buy the device (which already has a consumer base of 8 million in just 200 days since launch, as CEO Steve Jobs was quick to point out). It just means marketers will be able to reach more consumers via mobile than ever, as more people will be interested in their handset’s features. Even if it is a Symbian-powered phone.
Marketing Communications Manager, mobileStorm
”I’d rather you text me”