Playbook in App Marketing: Diversify the Portfolio

App Playbook Today one in four Canadians have smartphones, and the numbers are expected to rise dramatically in the coming year. Taking this into consideration, imagine a playbook for app marketing, the purpose of which is to target high-income, educated smartphone users. The popular choice would have been the iPhone. With 75-million in combined sales of iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, the iOS empire is a gold mine for marketers and developers. Marketers enjoy a single-distribution channel, while consumers enjoy a one-tap access to 225,000 apps. Big brands like Amazon Kindle and FedEx have developed their apps with success. However, if a marketer only focuses on the iOS, they risk losing out on the rest of the audience, for example, Android, BlackBerry6, Samsung Bada, Symbian^3, WebOS, and Windows Phone. Considering there were 1.2-billion smartphones sold in 2009, there’s plenty of room to be the No. 2 and 3 platforms. With such fierce competition, the marketplace is confusing, so it’s hard to make sense of it all.

In the midst of market confusion for both consumers and marketers, opportunities arise for those deploying a more diversified strategy. Consider it as a diversified stock portfolio to nurture the next high-growth platforms or the next cool spots. In fact, in a recent “Mobile Developer Economics Report” by VisionMobile, most developers work on 2.8 platforms on average.

Multiple platforms

Take the Amazon Kindle Reading apps, for example. It’s available on Android, BlackBerry, iOS, and as well Mac and PC, and the physical Kindle. Amazon has the advantage of being the first mover in the e-book world. It’s a numbers game to build the install base. Once Kindle hits the critical mass, it will be a home run for their book selling strategy. The upside is building an integrated experience on each platform, plus Amazon can cater specifically to people’s tastes based on their smartphone choices. The downside is multiple platforms are costly to build. Versioning and support can be cost prohibitive. In Canada, TD and CIBC have recently launched multi-platform apps.

Web apps

Alternatively, the lowest common denominator in smartphones is the browser, as most are now WebKit-based and HTML5 ready. Adobe Flash would have been a logical choice, but the Apple-and-Adobe kerfuffle makes it unattractive. Google Canada demoed their Gmail web apps with the user interface customized for the iPhone, iPad, and Android platforms. The advantage is that Google only has to deploy once on their servers, and it works on most platforms.

Diversification

In an ideal scenario, I would consider multiple platforms, which is the Amazon Kindle approach. First, pick ecosystems with high market penetration. Creative marketers can segment their target audience — the trendsetters, business users, geeks, and average Joes — based on their respective choice of OS.

Second, personalization is the key to marketing effectiveness. Make each customer feels like they are the only customer. It increases customer satisfaction and brand awareness. Apps are intimate experiences. With many users checking apps on a daily (if not hourly) basis, brands can develop a deep and interactive customer relationship, which was not available in the past. The end goal is to demonstrate brand leadership using technology, which can lead to stronger brand loyalty.

To be sustainable in the long run, this app competition will converge. Marketers who get to the converged platforms first will demonstrate marketing leadership and break through the noise. So, be the first to reach out to these smartphone users in one of the fastest growing segments of the marketing world.

So what’s your favourite smartphone? Here’s a free book sample of The 8 Traits Successful People Have In Common: 8 To Be Great. Try it out on your Android, BlackBerry, iPad, iPhone, or Amazon Kindle. I hope you like it.

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