Verizon’s iPhone and Mobile Marketing

Dave LawsonIt’s finally here. After years of speculation, Verizon announced yesterday that the iPhone 4 will be coming to the network in February.
So, what does this mean for marketers and mobile strategy?
This Verizon iPhone announcement essentially creates a bigger pool of consumers, one that will likely mirror previous browsing behavior. Motorola, HTC, Samsung and others have had some time to close the gap a bit with their Android entries into the space. So for marketers, this makes even more of a case for considering EVERY device out there, developing optimized experiences across all OSs and devices.

For developers, I see it increasing considerations, opening up some level of fragmentation in the iOS development environment and process that we haven’t seen to date. Up to this point we’ve only seen a limited number of iOS devices brought to market, and all of those have been developed for the AT&T network capabilities, policies, and data handling. There is consistency and control there. Verizon is a different carrier with different requirements and different data policies. These differences will have subtle impacts on consumers, but bigger implications for developers and marketers.

When you look at absolute percentages, I think we’ll see a spike in iPhone market share. But for the everyday consumer, this is still a high-end phone with a high-end data plan, so that in itself defines a limited (but still large, active and desirable) segment of subscribers. If they had announced the iPhone was coming to Verizon and you could do all the cool stuff possible on it for $50 a month, then we’d have something more to consider.

Yet there is another factor to consider — one that will be compelling to see play out as the mobile ecosystem matures — that we attach emotions to our consumer electronics, and especially to our mobile devices. Understanding and appreciating this emotional connection is core to developing a correct approach to mobile marketing.

I see Apple products, iPhones specifically, as similar to baseball fans. Lots of people claim allegiance to the New York Yankees — many more than any other team. The Yankees bring an excellent product to the field that has clearly dominated over time. However, the total number of baseball fans that root for other teams dwarfs the Yankee fan base. In fact, odds are that when you ask one of those non-Yankee fans how they feel about pinstripes, you will get an impassioned, negative response. You would think these other fans should hold the same disdain for the Yankees as they do for any other team that comes to town, but some reason they hate them with a passion. Perhaps they resent them for their previous success, access to resources, and their culture-influenced branded affect. Whatever the reason, there’s a low percentage of chance of ever converting them to a more positive feeling about them. With many other choices out there for consumers, I see parallels here that might play out similarly in the mobile phone arena.

For my take on how the Verizon iPhone announcement will affect m-commerce, check out this article.

What are your thoughts on the Verizon iPhone?

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