I'm not a fan of the iPhone, or iPad come to that (more later). But it wasn't until yesterday evening at the CIPR that I learned quite how manic some marketers have become. The following conversation won't be verbatim as I wasn't party to it, but it's a good representation of the story as I heard it last night from those who are having these conversations too regularly:
Marketer: We need an iPhone app?
Mobile marketing expert: Righteo. Why's that?
Marketer: Because they're really cool and cool's where it's at for our target demographic.
Mobile marketing expert: Cool, yes, and who's the target?
Mobile marketing expert: Do you know that iPhone penetration is just 4% in the UK, and that's only 0.5% amongst UK teenagers?
Marketer: Oh :-(
The Social Summer events bring all sorts of people together under one roof for a beer and a chat about specific interesting issues. On conducting a quick straw poll of the super collection of people last night, we had roughly an equal split of Blackberrys, iPhones, Android (mostly HTC) and 'other', making for an unrepresentatively high proportion of smartphones.
The group's understanding of mobile was wide-ranging, from those who had simply experimented with various devices as consumers, up to the experts Si Crowhurst (@sicrowhurst) and Ben Scott-Robinson (@bcsr) from WeLoveMobile. And so it was to Si and Ben that we turned for a presentation on some of the main issues and case studies, and their entertaining trump-card stylee approach to discussing the marketer's mobile toolkit went down rather well indeed.
If you can't read it clearly from my less than handy videography, the four points are:
Mobile applications to reach the right audience
This point simply states the conclusion to the conversation thread above. Here's a great story from earlier this year in which a government department commissioned and launched an iPhone app for the unemployed to keep abreast of job opportunities. "Charities attacked the move, saying the popular mobile phones were unaffordable for thousands of Britons living below the breadline who are looking for work."
Campaign must degrade to low end, mass market experience
"Degrade", as used here, is a software term describing the ability of an application to cater to different (less functionally capable) situations. In other words, the roll out of a mobile campaign may deliver one sort of experience most suited to my HTC, but deliver a far more simple execution on far more simple devices.
Are there exceptions? Sure: 1. If you don't mind one jot excluding people / customers / prospects; 2. If you're, say, communicating with the "iPhone owners club"!
Experiential mobile campaign requires it's own marketing
This is WeLoveMobile's nod to integrated marketing. We've known for the best part of a decade now that "build it and they will come" does NOT apply to a website, so why should it apply to a mobile marketing campaign? If you have a whizz bang app, that's great, but only if people know about it. Your marketing strategy must seek to tie it all together.
Technology should be driven by campaign objective
Reminds me of my presentation to the Digital Impact conference in May in which I strongly asserted that digital or no digital, objectives must still cascade. Everything you do must have a visible and tangible link back up to your marketing objectives, to your business objectives, and a clear understanding in advance of how you intend to measure success (or failure).
Thanks Ben. Thanks Si.
So why don't I like the iPhone or the iPad? Don't get me wrong... I'm a Chartered Engineer and love the engineering, I just have a problem with the philosophy that sits behind them.
Our world has reaped the almost accidental benefit of an incredible infrastructure we call the Internet, to which we have connected computers on which we can do almost anything, and constructed this amazing Web thing to run on top of the Internet that's open to all.
Then along comes Apple and says: 'But we know what's good for you. We'll build a walled garden and dictate what can and cannot grow in it, and who can and cannot come into it.'
But I for one would never want a computing device where I have to ask permission to run stuff on it, no matter how "lovely" the "experience" is. I would never make my business the development of software for a computing device where I had to ask someone else nicely if it was OK, not knowing what they were going to say, and then capitulate 30% of my revenues for the pleasure.
There is no other way of putting this... it is a retrograde step.
A good friend of mine has been waxing lyrical about his iPhone for years, and now the iPad. Gorgeous. So easy. Just what consumers want. (Already sounds too much like Aldous Huxley's soma if you ask me!)
Anyway, reality has just started to dawn. A client he helped commission a Flash-only website a while back has just pointed out that it doesn't run on iPhones or iPads. Apple has fallen out with Adobe (the company behind Flash), so that's that. No Flash tree is gonna grow in your iPhone garden.
So, do help support an open Web. It's hard work keeping it open, but nowhere near as hard as it would prove to open again should we allow it to close off into little protectorates.
And do join us for the next Social Summer, on the 24th, "What Has Google Ever Done For PR?"... hosted by Andrew Smith, a man who knows more about wielding Google for your marketing campaign success than any man alive who doesn't work somewhere called a "plex".
P.S. And yes, for the informed out there, I know Android is not yet fully open, but the intent is expressed. And here's looking forward to Nokia's and Intel's MeeGo mobile operating system too.