Exa Newsletter, Winter 09 Edition

The Apple of Your Phone


Remember the hype? How could you forget!

When Apple launched the iPhone Classic in June, 2007, and the iPhone 3G in July, 2008, a media storm ensued. Consumer demand followed suit, as new and old Apple customers reportedly camped outside stores overnight to be the first proud owners. iPhone fever spread worldwide soon after, the highly-coveted product becoming available in more than 80 countries.

If the past was anything to go by, the release of the new iPhone 3GS this June would elicit a similar response. Crowds would swarm, media outlets would gather. But it simply wasn’t to be.

In shockingly uncharacteristic fashion, crowds were well-behaved and subdued. The atmosphere in the US on June 19 was a far cry from 2008. Live blogs from CNET, written at the event, reported lines forming reasonably early, modest queues of 300 people at the largest Apple Stores in the country.

Some claimed the excitement was down because the product wasn’t dramatically different from the previous iPhone 3G model. That certainly contributed.

Whatever the case, avoiding critical discourse about the beginning of the iPhone’s demise is highly encouraged. Because however you slice it, the latest iPhone still delivers.

Walt Mossberg from the Wall Street Journal reports, "Apple Inc’s iPhone has been a smashing success, redefining the smart-phone market"?.

In today’s gadget-crazed society, it was a given that a toy as extravagant and functional as the latest iPhone would again appease the masses.

For applications it is unrivalled. For practicality nothing else comes close.

What about for business use?

Well, increasingly, the Apple iPhone just makes sense.

An Evolving Business Strategy

Adopting advancing technologies into your business, as Rupert Murdoch’s message makes clear, has never been more important.

Addressing a gathering of the newspaper industry recently, the media soothsayer declared that as advancing technologies threaten to kill off the media industry, it’s time to “Adapt or die!?.

His advice is apt. While you ponder whether or not to embrace technology, rest assured that your competition are. And the reason is simple: it doesn’t matter how the message finds its way to a customer, just that it does.

The iPhone’s rich HTML format and internet enabled capability holds the key. With over 500 million applications being downloaded for the iPhone globally, users are downloading their Met schedule on the hop, checking their Facebook account and giving a quick Tweeting while in transit, getting directions from mobile maps, and even booking a table at their favourite restaurant. The scope for businesses to cash in is out of sight.

The technology will take care of itself. As brands, organisations and businesses look at different ways of harnessing the iPhone’s technology, it appears business is now limited only by imagination.

Imagine what a smart, savvy ‘App’, branded and developed for YOUR business, could achieve?

Perhaps your tax company builds a tool to calculate personal and business taxes. Or your supermarket chain creates the means to allow user access to seasonal and weekly specials at the store closest to them, and order them online for home delivery – using the GPS software already existing within their iPhone?

With the potential for success now well and truly in the hands of the average citizen, it appears the question for businesses should be when, rather than if.

James Katz, director of the Center for Mobile Communications Studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey, gives hope to all would-be, third-party developers.

"Even if you’re not a programming guru, you can still cobble something together and potentially have great success."?

If creating an ‘App’ isn’t relevant for your business, keeping the iPhone’s HTML capability in mind can serve you well. Do you know, for example, if your website is iPhone (or any other internet enabled mobile device) enabled? Is your audience able to access your website information efficiently on a mobile?

The iPhone presents multiple opportunities to succeed, and, by not grasping these opportunities, to fail.

A Stable Relationship

Like every medium to come before it, the iPhone strikes at the heart of societal scepticism and insecurity. As we continually witness with the birth of fundamentally revolutionary technologies, there are always sceptics; those paid to publicly doubt a company’s success. The low turnout at the latest release of the iPhone was no exception.

But given that the iPhone – already tagged as one of the greatest inventions of the 21st century - boasts over 500 million applications, there’s a good chance it’s not going away anytime soon.

Apple has established a template for guaranteed future success: the ultimate symbiotic relationship – open-source programming. Apple creates the platform, the consumer creates the content, and both parties benefit.

As businesses the world over ‘adapt’, will yours?