What the new iPhone means to marketers
More video on the move and the launch of Passbook are the two most significant things marketers need to consider when the iPhone 5 launches next week, argues Cathie McGinn.
The iPhone 5 launched today, with the usual blend of zealotry and vitriol that has come to typify Apple product releases.
It’s hard to say whether this is indicative of a different approach after the death of notoriously controlling CEO Steve Jobs, but it’s interesting to note that unlike most previous Apple product launches, there was little in today’s announcement that wasn’t already rumoured across tech blogs and media.
Billed as “ the thinnest smartphone in the world” the key features of the Phone 5 are a new, larger screen, higher quality camera (with eight megapixels), faster connectivity and a longer battery life. The new data protocols of HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA are supported, as they are on the new iPad – along with ultrafast LTE (4G).
Telstra, Optus, and Virgin (which piggybacks on the Optus network) have been named as the carriers able to provide 4G immediately. It explains why Optus rushed to announce its limited 4G network earlier this month. Telstra is further advanced with its 4G rollout.
It represents good news for content makers who already have mobile in their sights, and it’s definitely indicative of a trend towards greater consumer uptake of high definition content on the go, along with offering a much more creative breadth for mobile display ads.
Foad Fadaghi of technology analysts Telsyte says: “The iPhone 5 isn’t going to grow market share by much but it will reinforce market share for the next 12-24 months and give added confidence about mobile as a strong platform. It’s ideal for video. Faster 4G and a bigger screen means streaming high definition content to devices. It presents a great oppoortunity for advertisers and brand content makers, and mobile display can be richer and more engaging.”
The new components in the iPhone 5, along with the thinner phone body have necessitated a new adaptor with fewer connecting pins, something that will enrage any Apple fan with a suite of companion products now requiring a clunky adaptor.
The cynical mutterings of “planned obsolescence” are probably less fair this time: the reality is the new connectivity speeds and supporting the clarity of the screen mean the battery has to be bigger in order to have a reasonable charge life.
One interesting omission is the lack of a near field communication chip, which had been hotly tipped to be the new way of connecting with consumers, with outdoor companies like JC Decaux already investing in the technology. NFC gives consumers the ability to swipe a phone to pay for purchases and is used by Google’s cash free development Google Wallet.
Apple instead is pushing its new closed system Passbook technology, which is being implemented by brands like Virgin Australia. Passbook stores tickets, membership cards, manages tickets, check-ins and so on, with in-built live updates – for example late flight departure alerts – and is a step towards the digital wallet that Google has already surpassed. Apple is traditionally leery of adopting third party technologies until they have the weight of numbers behind them, but this seems overly cautious, a missed opportunity to give consumers and third parties an open system that works across devices.
The oportunities for marketers are significant: because Passbook runs continually, users won’t need to open an app to interact with a brand. Using GPS, consumers can be sent a voucher or find out about deals and offers near them while they’re in a shopping centre, for example.
In what seems to be something of a shift in allegiance to social technologies, the iPhone 5 won’t come with the YouTube app already included in its house apps – a departure for Apple – but will offer new instant Facebook integration for Contacts and Calendar.
YouTube has created its own app which will join the rank and file in the App Store.
The new screen has a 16:9 aspect ratio display, which will doubtless delight the thousands of app developers who will now have to reformat every single app design. This is going to represent a significant cost in aggregate terms and seems a blunder from Apple. Until the app icons are updated they will display a letterboxed version.
In other good news for fans of function and form, Apple will be replacing their uncomfortable headphones at last with the new EarPods which may actually fit the human ear, and has launched a redesign of iTunes to showcase content in a new, sleeker and aesthetically pleasing platform.
Overall, there’s nothing unforeseen and nothing that represents a huge leap forwards. It does suggest that marketers who aren’t considering how to reach the consumer on the move already need to get galvanised to do so or risk losing the opportunity altogether. Passbook is the single most important marketing issue to focus on, I’d argue.
But fans will doubtless queue in droves at Apple stores on the 21st of September, and the slick presentation images plus the classic Apple copyboggling of quotes like “anodised aluminium body with diamond cut chamfered edges and glass inlays for a truly incredible fit and finish” might persuade iPhone 4 owners to consign perfectly working telephones to landfill regardless.