Location, location, location! Foursquare is the current social and location based gem which everyone is looking to leverage. SCVNGR could be the next big thing, with Google behind them, adding deep commerce ties to a familiar ‘check-in’ system. How does getting a special offer for 20 check-ins sound?
The explosive growth of Groupon, OpenTable, and other tools which enable consumers to interact with stores online and lead to offline purchase is presenting unique opportunities for our clients. Leveraging mobile devices and applications to generate in-store, localized sales is the next revenue stream, and we’re on top of it.
Recently Apple presented the new iPhone. This is the 4th generation of the iPhone. It’s definitely worth your time to understand the major hardware changes, because ultimately those hardware changes will drive innovation in the app market.
Instead of focusing on features and functions, at MARC USA we think the big story is that the smartphone market is going to explode. Apple will be selling the “old” iPhone for only $99.99 at WalMart. This will make smartphones very attainable for all demographics. Despite a big push from phones running on the Google Android operating system, the reality is we still live in a smartphone market dominated by Apple. Apple’s success will ultimately drive the success of the entire smartphone market. With more smartphones, apps, SMS as part of CRM and mobile-optimized sites will become more critical.
Consumers expect that your site “works” when they visit it via their mobile device. This isn’t a given. Any website that leverages Flash will “fail” in the visitor’s eyes unless a mobile optimized version has been created to ensure a positive user experience. Additionally, you can bet that consumers will be scanning the iTunes App store looking for your company’s app. The mobile revolution is here. For years we’ve heard that this is the “year of mobile” only to be let down. With smartphone penetration at 40% and set to blow past featurephones in 2011, this is one trend you need to be on top of right now.
We’re all looking to add value. Value often comes in the form of financial incentives. But lately we’re seeing a shift. Companies are going beyond price discounts. aLoft Hotels is a known innovator in the hospitality space, and their recent partnership with VingCard demonstrates how they got that reputation.
aLoft is currently piloting a new program that lets guests bypass the traditional check-in process by transforming their cell phones into virtual keys that unlock their rooms. But here’s the brilliant catch – this program is only available to registered Starwood Preferred Guest members. Those members are given special “loyalty” cards that have RFID technology built in. On the day of a guest’s arrival, they receive a text message indicating their room number. Guests then flash their SPG loyalty card in front of the door to unlock and enter.
This isn’t just a marketing gimmick; it’s an operational efficiency program. Staff can be removed from the front desk and redistributed as needed to make the guest’s overall experience better.
When you see true added value like this, it’s hard not to offer up your personal information, spend the time registering and then make aLoft your hotel of choice. That’s not just value – that’s loyalty.
So, you’ve heard about this thing called the iPad – maybe you’re even reading this on yours. Between the massive advertising blitz and tremendous PR buzz, it’s tough not to be aware of the newest game-changing device from Apple. At MARC USA, an agency focused on game-changing ideas that fuse creativity and technology, the iPad definitely caught our eye when it was announced last month. We had one on opening day. Now, after analyzing the hardware, software, features, functions, tools and apps, we’re ready to offer our strategic point of view.
The success of the iPad won’t be in sales. If that were the case, it would already be a failure. Analysts predicted Apple would sell 700,000 iPads on day one. One month later, Apple has finally crossed the 1,000,000 mark. Not unlike the iPhone, we’ll look back on the launch of the iPad as a major driver of consumer expectations. And that’s what will be the true measure of its success.
The iPad is an interesting piece of technology. At its core, the iPad is a super-sized iPod touch or an iPhone without a camera or means to make phone calls. It’s a niche “toy” that fills the gaps other devices have. For example, it’s nearly 3 pounds lighter than most laptops and offers 4X more battery life. What may ultimately doom the iPad is that it’s not only a niche device; it’s an expensive one. The cheapest model is $499 and the most expensive is $829. For your average family of four, in today’s economy, the price point is a huge barrier.
So who is buying the iPad? Well, according to a recent survey by Piper Jaffray, it’s exactly who you thought would be buying them. 74% of buyers were Mac users and 66% were iPhone users.
Plus, 39% of buyers opted for the cheapest one, and 96% admitted it wouldn’t replace any of the devices they had. While Apple may not have grown its laptop market share, it has come out with a great “line extension” for Apple fans to purchase and adopt. And, it has motivated some PC folks to try an Apple product.
Many companies are already plotting their “iPad strategy.” But, we don’t believe the iPad is a strategy. It’s more of a content distribution tool, just like your website. Eventually millions of people will want to consume your content from their iPads. And that’s the real opportunity and the reason for thinking about an overall content strategy.
So, what does that mean for you?
- As you think about your website experience, you can’t just consider the second screen – the laptop. iPad optimized versions of your website will become increasingly important.
- You’ll also need to be more mindful of the technologies used in developing your site. For example, the iPad, just like every other smart phone on the market, does NOT support Flash. If your website is Flash-driven and you don’t have an iPad or mobile optimized version, your visitors will see an error message. They aren’t going to blame their device – they’ll blame the website. This can lead to a negative experience and a missed opportunity.
- When developing apps, you’ll need to consider developing both an iPhone and an iPad version. There’s definitely a cost benefit to developing both versions at the same time, instead of having to retrofit later on.
- There’s now another place where you can place ads. Magazine publishers may syndicate the same ad you placed in their print version into their digital magazine. Apple will also now allow companies to run ads inside their apps. With the screen size of the iPad so much larger than the iPhone, this represents a big opportunity for impact.
- Perhaps, the biggest opportunity the iPad presents is how it could revolutionize point of sale. Retailers like Puma are going to integrate iPads into their store experience. Employees will be able to showcase product, check inventory, cross-sell, up-sell, enhance and simplify the buying experience. With the ability to check inventory in real-time, customers will never be recommended an item only to find out it’s not available in their size.
There’s no doubt the iPad is a game changer, and it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of something new. However, with budgets getting tighter and the country still mired in a soft economy, focus is needed now more than ever. So, we’ve been coaching our clients to focus on the true major opportunity that’s here right now with scale – MOBILE.
Apple has sold 45 million iPhones. People rarely, if ever, leave home without their cell phone. Last year, the number of cell phone-only houses trumped the number of houses using landlines. Mobile permeates the daily fabric of our lives. When you consider the shear size of the mobile market and its consumption by consumers, we need to consider the third screen as if it were the first screen.
So, before you start thinking about the iPad, start focusing on mobile.