Thursday, 22 October 2009

iPhone apps, your new marketing tool?

On my iPhone I have plenty of apps that let me access services on the Internet. There's Weather Pro for weather, Byline for easy access to Google Reader and there's Spotify to mention a few. All of these are great apps and I use them every day. They certainly add value to the services, but do they really bring me something new? Basically these apps just let me access services I otherwise could access using other methods.

Can an app do even more than that? Can an app be used to market something that isn't digital or even intangible? Sure you say. Just take a look at the gaming industry. Take Metallica Guitar hero for example? Or all those games that takes you to a web site once you finish playing? That's certainly apps serving marketing, but they are still related to digital stuff, right? What if you want to market something intangible like inspiration to cook?

Enter Jamie Oliver.
I recently bought Jamie's iPhone app - 20 Minute meals. It's a great app. If you haven't checked it out already you should go ahead and do so immediately after finishing reading this post. The app contains great recipes and it's one of the coolest iPhone apps I have seen to this date, but it's also a genius when it comes to marketing. I really think this app is something new.

It's better than a book because I can use it on the bus on my way home after work. (Ever tried bringing a cookbook with you to work?) And it's videos can show me a lot more than images in a book can. It's also better than TV because I can use it whenever and wherever I like. (Ever tried cooking along with the TV show?) It's even better than the web because it's easier to view, read and navigate.

For Jamie the app is a new media. Note, that the key here is the word app. It's not the iPhone that's the media but the app. This new media actually lets Jamie come closer to his fans. In my case about 23 cm from my nose and about 10 cm from my stove.

This has to be something that can be used by other marketers, right?
I wrote a couple of my ideas down. Here they are:

a) If I marketed plants and seeds, I would develop an iPhone app that let me plan my garden and taught me how to care for my plants. It could contain videos showing me how to prepare the soil and how to plant the seeds. It could create calender events and reminders to remind me when to fertilize etc. It could even check my geographical position and advise me when it's time to sow, and why not adapt to the actual weather situation? Further it could even include a competition. Take a photo of your harvest with the app and send it in. Best photo wins.

b) If I were a travel agency, I would develop destination guides for the iPhone. They could use the GPS to guide me to sights and things worth seeing. Once there it could show me videos explaining what I'm looking at. (I'm not even going to get started on what augmented reality could do in this situation. That's almost to much). The apps should also include all the recommended restaurants including GPS-guiding, and why not a service where you could rate the place? And why not all the local bus timetables? I don't know about you, but I'd buy the app on the spot.

c) If I were a music critic, I would develop an app where I could bring myself closer to the listening experience. Imagine an app where you could click a song and see a video of me talking about the song. I could provide you with background information about the song, show you the places, things and people the song is actually about. Of course, I'd let you rate my review as well as add you own comments.

What do you think? I think that it's time to invite the application developer to the table. Apps should definitely be part of the mix.

Do you have other examples like Jamie's 20 Minute meals or do you have an idea for an app, please share it.

Oh, I almost forgot. Here's the link to Jamie's iPhone app web page

Update:
Found an article in Business Week - Inside the App Economy. Definitely related.

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