Five Application Marketing Trends

In 2009, we witnessed an explosion of activity in application marketing. With Apple’s popular App Store fueling the excitement, major brands are adding applications to expand the use and popularity of their product. Recent research coming out of the digiday:APPS summit shows that the interest of advertisers and agencies is growing in mobile apps and that 65 percent plan to develop mobile apps in 2010.

Here are the top five application marketing trends impacting digital marketers:

  • Phenomenal growth in mobile apps. Over 3 billion downloads in less than 18 months from Apple’s App Store has caught the attention of marketers. Morgan Stanley predicts that mobile app growth will be 10-fold (from the desktop Internet), from 1 billion to over 10 billion units in the next decade.
  • Leading device manufacturers mimicking the success of Apple’s App Store. Consumers want information where and when they desire. Apps are popping up everywhere:
    • Apps in television set-top boxes: Samsung announced the launch of Samsung Apps, a multi-device application store with content partners, including Blockbuster, USA Today, and others. Samsung plans to make apps available for a range of devices from mobile phones to HDTVs.
    • Apps in car electronics: Ford recognizes that consumers want information on demand. Ford’s Sync feature uses an 8-inch touch screen in the dashboard as well as voice commands. You can catch up on Twitter, listen to Internet radio, check movie times, and get free online maps with turn-by-turn directions.
    • Apps for netbooks: Intel launched a beta version of its app store, called the Intel AppUp center for netbooks. It is currently offering about 100 apps.
  • It will become even easier to develop apps. Some 2 million Adobe Flash developers will be enlisted to develop apps along with some 125,000 iPhone developers. The next release of the Adobe Flash Platform, Flash Professional CS5, includes the Packager for iPhone, allowing developers to use Flash technologies to convert content developed in Flash to be compatible with the iPhone and iPod touch automatically. Already, Adobe AIR, a cross-operating system, gives developers the ability to combine HTML, Ajax, Adobe Flash, and Adobe Flex technologies to deploy rich Internet applications on the desktop. Microsoft Silverlight is also available, as well as Appcelerator Titanium, which offers complete control over mobile and desktop app development.
  • App discovery has emerged as a major problem for app marketers and developers. App galleries, stores, and directories are effective distribution vehicles if you are in the top tier. In the Apple App Store, featured categories promote about 179 apps. Since over 100,000 apps are available, less than 0.2 percent are easily found by consumers. Apps need a marketing strategy behind them to succeed. Watch for expanding application discovery models.
  • Browser add-ons drove Firefox to a 25 percent market share; Google Chrome is responding. Firefox’s Add-on site gets over 2 million unique visitors each month searching for browser add-ons, resulting in 1.7 billion downloads to date, with 182 million apps in use. The popularity of Firefox’s browser add-ons allowed Mozilla to grab market share from Internet Explorer. Google is now responding with its Chrome extensions.

It’s a dynamic time for application marketing. As a new columnist for ClickZ, I plan to focus on application marketing strategies across multiple platforms that enable brands to connect with their consumers when and where they want to access their content. The objective of my column is to share insights for digital marketers that have hit a wall with conventional marketing tactics and want to engage their audience with applications. If there are any specific topics you would like to me to delve into, please drop me an e-mail here or on Twitter at @robertjweber.

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