Let’s Get Brand Appy

November 16th, 2009 by Brian Edwards

With the successful launch of the Verizon Droid, the best-selling Android phone to date, app-capable smartphones are well on their way to becoming the standard for

The new Motorola Droid on Verizon.

The new Motorola Droid on Verizon.

cell phones.  The wireless service providers such as AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are all seeing big spikes in revenue and profit as consumers sign up for data plans in droves. This is leading to escalating battles to build out faster, more capable networks and over time lower prices for data plans.

What all this points to is widespread, mainstream adoption of incredibly powerful and well-connected smartphones. Within a few years, there’s no doubt that today’s spiffy Droid will be obsolete and Verizon will be all but giving them away if you sign up for a two year deal with a heavily discounted data plan.  Sure there will be people who say they don’t need all the features etc., just as there are people who still don’t have email accounts.  Whatever.

The era of smartphones in everyone’s pocket has arrived.

If you’re in the business of building your company’s brand, now is the time to figure out your personal branding app strategy.  Stake out your space, figure out what works and what doesn’t work.  Over time, you can count on your competitors to match your every move, but there’s a big advantage to be had for those who figure it out sooner rather than later.

One objection we’re likely to hear is that with so many apps already available, how many apps could someone actually need or want?  The answer is that people will want as many apps as make their life better in some incremental way or add entertainment value.  There will also be a long-tail phenomenon and every app will find a target audience of some sort.  The way I see it, the opportunity to get customers to interact with your brand on a personal and meaningful way is too good to pass up.

As a homeowner and committed do-it-yourself type, I spend a lot of time snooping around my local Home Depot. I could see how a well-designed app could improve my loyalty to Home Depot, improve my shopping experience and save time and trips on projects.  The app could start with an intelligent shopping list function with helpful tools like conversion tables and so forth. Once the list is built, the app would confirm with the local stores if the items I want are available. At the store, turn-by-turn navigation would route me through the aisles in an efficient manner. It would also alert me to specials based on my buying patterns, and of course provide plenty of sponsorship opportunities for manufacturers to explain why their tape measure is better than the next guys.  The app would also link to my Facebook account and let my buddies know about the great deals on nail guns or PVC pipe.

And lest you think DIYers aren’t’ a great demographic, check out this list of the 10 Essential Apps for Do-It-Yourself already available on the iPhone.

This brings up the platform discussion. While Apple has a big lead at the moment and has demonstrated the value of the smartphone application model, my take is that Android is poised to become dominate in short order. It will be similar to the PC industry where Apple sticks to its closed, proprietary and heavy-handed control over the developer community and keeps about 10 percent market share.  Android is more open, developer friendly and being promoted by a host of vendors. It’s the industry vs. Apple all over, and in that scenario Apple loses.

Want to build your brand? Start looking for an app developer, preferably one who’s been to an Android developer boot camp.

Update: Highly influential blogger Robert Scoble on his Scobelizer blog stresses the importance of apps on smartphone. His post is in response to comments by Microsoft exec Ray Ozzie that apps won’t be a differentiating factor on smartphones.  I’m not sure Ozzie realizes how ridiculous he sounds, but Scoble’s response is more proof that apps are where the action is in mobile. Check out the discussion here.

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