Apple unveiled the newest version of its iPhone today and consumers aren't the only ones taking notice. Marketers and brands that reach millions of iPhone users through branded apps, marketing campaigns and advertising were closely following today's widely anticipated event. Some may have to revamp apps to ensure they still look good and operate well.
The iPhone not only accounts for an outsized share of Apple's revenue and profits, it also commands unparalleled mindshare and interest throughout the world. For years, marketers have been targeting iPhone users and competing for engagement across what now represents six generations of Apple's flagship device.
"The sheer number of people that will have these devices is meaningful to marketers," said Adam Broitman, chief creative strategist at Something Massive. But, of course, with every iPhone refresh, marketers face equal parts concern and opportunity. "How much rework are we going to have to do for the applications we've already built for brands? I'm not looking forward to seeing how many apps that we just launched" will look on the iPhone 5's larger screen, he added.
"We're getting to a point now where it's just very costly to build applications for many brands," said Broitman. "Having branded apps for things that aren't games or very high functioning applications that don't take advantage of sensors doesn't make sense.... I don't see the value in having your app be the distribution channel."
Apple CEO Tim Cook reported that the App Store now has 700,000 apps with 250,000 apps developed specifically for the iPad. Apple has sold a cumulative 400 million iOS devices to date and, remarkably, 90 percent of all apps in the App Store are downloaded every month, he said. Usage continues to grow in stride.
"The average customer now is using over 100 apps," said Cook. "It's been an absolute revolution. It's phenomenal. Together with the incredible products, these have helped us achieve an incredible milestone."
The iPhone 5 is made entirely of glass and aluminum, sporting a 7.6mm thin body with a 4-inch touchscreen display and 1136x640 resolution. In addition to improved wireless connectivity, the iPhone 5 features an 8-megapixel camera and iOS 6, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system.
"There were really no surprises here," said Broitman. "I don't think it's an incredible shift in terms of marketing.... Marketers need to know about this stuff, but the enhancements are more from a technology perspective than from a media, channel distribution perspective."
How many brands still think of iPhone app development as a one-time investment is a larger marketing concern, he said. As such, Broitman urges his clients to at least plan a small budget for ongoing maintenance required with some iOS software updates.
"You have to think of it as a living channel because every time Apple updates the iOS you have to think about what changes need to be made," he added. "I do think that a lot of brands overlook the fact that this is not a one-time investment."
Apple will begin taking pre-orders for the $199 iPhone 5 this Friday with shipment scheduled for Sept. 21.
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Matt Kapko has been writing about mobile since 2006, before it became cool. Based in Long Beach, CA, he has covered mobile entertainment, digital media, marketing, and advertising for several business media outlets. A former editor and reporter for RCR Wireless News, paidContent, and iMedia Connection, Matt is a regular freelance reporter for ClickZ. You can follow Matt on Twitter at @MattKapko or drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 19, 2014