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Branded Apps - Looking Beyond the iPhone

  |  March 4, 2011   |  Comments   |  

Brands need to care about Android, BlackBerry, and, yes, Nokia.

Everyone loves the iPhone. It's sleek, it's sexy, and I'll admit, it's changed the game. The industry is also more than just a little excited about creating apps. Certainly from my perspective, it seems just about every brand is jumping on the bandwagon, asking how they can get their apps noticed on the App Store, what it takes to be approved by Apple, and how should they be incorporating the iPad into their marketing plans.

I get it, I really do. Hey, I have an iPad. I love it – and I made fun of them when they were first announced! I'm definitely a fan of Apple products, and I'm a tried and true convert of the MacBook Pro faith.

However...

You can't let your own personal preferences get in the way of engaging with your brand's consumers. In her last presentation for Morgan Stanley, the always impressive Mary Meeker posted up some very fascinating numbers relating to global smartphone maker marketshare. The numbers, while clearly showing impressive growth over the last three years by Apple's iOS platform, also shows just how fragmented the market still is at a global level.

Yes, the iPhone is sexy, and it is certainly a trendsetter, but it still only boasts 17 percent of the global smartphone market!

The Android platform, while still somewhat fragmented by poor operator and handset maker decisions, is already larger, with a rapidly expanding 25 percent share of the market.

BlackBerry, the tried and true veteran of the corporate world, is nearly on par with the iPhone, sporting a very respectable 15 percent of the market.

Who, might you ask, still holds the lead globally, with a still very respectable 37 percent share of the smartphone market?

Nokia.

Yep.

Wait, the same Nokia that just threw in with Microsoft?

Yep.

Granted, its marketshare is shrinking rapidly, but Nokia still continues to hold a substantial piece of the smartphone market. In nearly all of today's fastest growing emerging markets – China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, etc. – Nokia continues to hold on to a clear leadership position.

In addition to its marketshare in these key markets, Nokia's Ovi store also boasts strong ties with operators, allowing for direct operator billing through the store, as opposed to Apple, which still requires direct purchasing through either a credit card, or purchasing prepaid cards at retail. What's more, its app store, Ovi, is a far less crowded space in which your brand can be noticed. Once the integration with the Windows Phone 7 marketplace is completed, the traffic (and thus value to brands) will only increase as the two companies roll out their first generation handsets These facts become even more powerful when you consider the final piece of the puzzle.

Working with Apple's competitors brings delivers to your brand partners that are hungry. RIM and Nokia are actively pursuing brands across the globe, encouraging them to develop branded apps for their platforms as they play catch-up to Apple – and now Android. Not only are they far more flexible to work with, they'll happily explore joint promotions, offering additional benefits like top of channel banners, highlighted apps features, top deck app placement, and retail promotion and support.

In a smartphone market that is clearly fragmented, and everyone looking to stretch marketing budgets as far as possible, it becomes increasingly difficult to consider any mobile marketing strategy that refuses to look beyond simply the iPhone.

It's easy to be swept away by the latest handset or tablet launch, and while it's certainly important to keep on top of the latest trends – it always comes back to the numbers. Marketers must stay vigilant against everyone's arch enemy "groupthink" and ensure our plans are grounded in sound research.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ben Condit

Ben Condit is the head of Exicon Digital. He has extensive Asia Pacific experience in all facets of interactive marketing, from launching a massively multiplayer game across Asia to founding boutique interactive design agency Upstart Hong Kong. Prior to Exicon, Ben was regional account director at Isobar Asia Pacific leading regional digital strategy jointly with sister agency Carat for top client Adidas Group, including the Beijing Olympics 2008.

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