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Apple's iPhone: The Second Coming

  |  May 29, 2008   |  Comments

Rumor has it that 3G iPhones are due out in two weeks. What does this mean for consumers and mobile marketing?

I don't own, nor do I really want to own, an iPhone. Sacrilegious, I know, but only a few months back I finally went down from carrying multiple phones to just my Curve. Don't get me wrong, I'm known for randomly picking up someone else's iPhone and testing out my finger dexterity, but I'm still loving the one device thing.

Plus, there's no way my information technology department will support our corporate e-mail over an iPhone anytime soon. We run Lotus notes. Enough said, right? While my e-mail woes might be the single biggest reason why I'm not an iPhone owner, there's no mistaking that the second coming is upon us.

Multiple sources, from gadget blogs to mainstream online and print publications, are widely circulating the rumor that June 9 is the day that the 3G iPhone hits the market globally. Coinciding with Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (sold out for the first time in its history), this makes sense given the short supply of iPhones available online and at retail. Further, if the rumor mill is to be believed, word has gone out to AT&T employees to keep the vacation days to zero from mid-June through mid-July.

Funny how I've written the word "iPhone" six times (well now seven) in less than 300 words but AT&T has only been mentioned once. Yet another reason why June might really be the month in which Apple closes in on achieving the goal of selling 10 million handsets by year end.

It should be obvious to anyone who is even passively monitoring this marketplace, but just to be clear, a wickedly smart man named Steve Jobs is driving this train. AT&T is along for the ride and making every attempt to keep up in a domestic marketplace where the opposite relationship between handset manufacturer and carrier is normally true.

Further evidence of this was found a few mornings back during my daily read of Wired headlines via Facebook. I was clued into the announcement by AT&T that its domestic rollout of HSUPA 3G, a high-speed network, is targeted to be completed by the end of June. Coincidence? I think not. I will, however, take this date with a grain of salt given the notorious delays known to plague these types of network upgrades and rollouts. But the puzzle pieces are starting to fit together and there can be no 3G iPhone without the network infrastructure to support it.

What does this really mean for an ecosystem that many still think is years away from realizing its full potential (i.e. fulfilling revenue estimates generated from both the advertising and marketing services of brands, content providers, and carriers)?

Part of the answer is hidden is news releases like the one from M:Metrics in May, which touted data showing the average time spent per month browsing the mobile Web, among smartphone users in the United States at four hours, 38 minutes. This figure is nearly double that of those browsing in Britain, and largely fueled by the early adoption of flat-rate data plans and social networking uptake in the U.S.

The correlation comes in the fact that most opting into flat-rate data plans are doing so because they're using more advanced handsets, like the iPhone. Additionally, Nielsen also reported this month that many leading Web sites, accessed from home PCs alone, can extend their reach by 13 percent or greater with mobile site destinations. As more content becomes available, it's easier to spend hours instead of minutes a month online via a mobile phone browser.

The release of the next generation iPhone means the competition must continue stepping up their game. The marketplace impact won't be realized for several months, if not several years. Even if I'm not an iPhone owner, I'm smart enough to realize that the continued presence of Apple and its form factor and technology in the mobile marketplace can only mean good things for consumers to come. Consumers that one day might even include me.

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Courtney Acuff

With more than 237 million cell phone users in the U.S. alone, Courtney Jane Acuff’s charge within Denuo as director is to deliver consumer insights and innovative media solutions in the wireless space. Prior to this, Acuff stood at the helm of one of mobile marketing’s most influential media agencies, SMG Digits, where she harnessed mobile communications' power, influence, and potential. At Digits, she researched, designed, and executed the first-ever domestic, consumer-centric wireless market analysis, providing insights into the medium’s potential for relevant consumer engagement. It was the first effort by an agency to understand consumers' burgeoning use of mobile applications, the content they access, and how they want the technology to be a part of their lives.

Acuff currently consults for clients such as Walt Disney World, Walgreens, Sprint, and Philip Morris, framing the mobile marketplace and guiding marketing initiatives. She maintains strong relationships with mobile back-end providers and is a founding member of the Mobile Marketing Association. Her influence in the industry earned her coveted recognition as a “Twentysomething to Watch” in 2004 by "Advertising Age." Acuff holds B.A.s in political science and communications, both from Lake Forest College in Illinois.

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