You Sure That's a Phone in Your Pocket?

With These Apps, iPhone Expands the Definition

By Published on .

Troy Young
Troy Young
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I, like most people I know, have a love-hate relationship with my iPhone. I miss the Blackberry it replaced -- the efficient wheel, meaty keyboard and down-to-business UI. My Blackberry was a very effective communication device.

That said, I've just downloaded a couple more apps for my iPhone that knock me out. I have been using Sonos music system in my home for years. Wireless controllers for the Sonos systems run about $400. Recently, Sonos released an app for the iPhone. Now I can shelve my controllers and control music all over my house with my phone. How about the Smule apps? They show a platform's potential unlocked with imagination. My phone is now a digital flute with a social twist. There are countless other examples: Google's voice-controlled search, SnapTell's media finder, Shazam, UrbanSpoon ... in short, I love what the iPhone is doing to my phone -- if you want to call it a phone.

After a little more than a year, the iPhone platform has spawned almost 9,000 applications and more innovation we've seen in the history of mobile communications. The iPhone is the mobile web and much more. Creative developers are inventing new ways to combine portability, communication, community and entertainment. Android will grow the distribution and economic opportunity across a larger base of hardware and carriers. Watch consumer behavior change fast. Users turn out mobile phones about once every 12 months. The next generation of phone buyers will create demand for platforms that offer at least the same level of utility and excitement.

It's time for brands to step in. Mobile is no longer just communications. Mobile has become another environment where consumers consume media and communicate -- just like the web.

But take note: The ad rules of mobile are like the ad rules of the web, squared. More than the web, your phone is the ultimate "demand" environment. Mobile is personal. Users control the flow. In this environment, advertising needs to complement the user experience. It needs to be entertaining or helpful or both.

I've seen enough to believe my company has to be part of the change. Not because we want to sell mobile but because we want to connect to consumers in the most vital digital media environments. iPhone and Android apps are promising new frontiers. The growth is significant, and our early tests show a willingness to engage with brand content. Plus the demographics are desirable.

People are asking if mobile is relevant now given the harsh economic climate and consequent elimination of discretionary innovation budgets. But mobile is not about mobile anymore. When marketers take a close look at budgets in the coming months, it will be less about moving back to "tried and true" and more about increased accountability, wherever people are spending time. In younger demos, there is no "tried and true."

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