Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Insisting On An iPhone App? Not So Fast

CM Comment: What you might want to consider before jumping into the iPhone craze.

March 27, 2009: summarized from AdAge.com -- As agencies herd their clients onto the iPhone-application bandwagon, brands are happy to climb onboard. After all, what marketer wouldn't salivate at the engagement prospects behind the 800 million games, utilities and entertainment downloaded from the App Store? And with handset makers Research In Motion and Nokia set to launch their own app storefronts in the coming weeks, app fever is sure to get more fuel. But the rush to apps has led to a backlash in some quarters, and a call for more measured thinking around branded apps.

There are reasons for marketers to exercise caution. For all the stellar numbers Apple publicizes, the data on iPhone-app usage suggest a dimmer reality. The average shelf life of an app is limited, with usage declining by almost a third in the first month after use, according to Pinch Media, which has studied iPhone-app usage based on 30 million downloads. By the company's estimate, only about 1% of downloads translate to long-term use -- not exactly welcome news for marketers looking to nurture relationships with consumers.

Plus, the App Store's growing popularity means marketers have to work harder to rise above the din. It's tough to be discovered among the growing array of apps and even harder to sustain a place among the most downloaded. An app needs momentum right out of the gate to ensure discovery. Getting a top ranking requires a lot of downloads in a narrow window that can be anywhere from 24 hours to five days, according to Pinch Media. Six months ago, 10,000 downloads earned a top-25 ranking; today it takes twice as many. (However, brands that reach top-100 rankings on average more than double their daily number of new users, according to Pinch Media.)

The success of the App Store has also focused marketers on the iPhone to the exclusion of other platforms. To be sure, iPhone users are engaged multimedia users, but published estimates put the number of iPhone users at less than 5% of the handset market, and mobile analyst Mark Lowenstein recently told a conference that the most successful apps reach just 20% of iPhone users. That's led some ardent app believers to advocate a broader approach.

Advances expected for the mobile web also have some wondering whether the app world is sustainable. Some say the limelight will return to the mobile web after the app craze levels off, particularly once its capabilities are on par with those of apps, with all their bells and whistles.

Full story at: http://tinyurl.com/crfyda

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