What Apple’s Latest Announcements Mean for Marketers

By , product marketing for Adobe Target:

Apple’s Sep­tem­ber 9th announce­ments weren’t just about its new iPhone. Instead, the tech giant took full advan­tage of the cap­tive, global audi­ence and rolled out the new after the new, from smart­phone and tablet advances to cutting-edge wear­able tech­nol­ogy and a dig­i­tal pay sys­tem. These trends don’t just impact Apple con­sumers and stake­hold­ers, they also sig­nal major indus­try shifts for brand mar­keters, e-commerce sites, and con­tent providers. Because where Apple—and its 55 mil­lion+ US households—goes, test­ing, opti­miza­tion, and per­son­al­iza­tion exten­sions must fol­low. Here’s what we’re focus­ing on.

Larger screens mean bet­ter experiences

With its 4.7” retina HD dis­play, the iPhone 6 boasts a nearly 18 per­cent larger screen than the iPhone 5 mod­els, and the 6 Plus dwarfs them all, with a mas­sive 5.5” screen. It seemed a nec­es­sary step—just one day before the announce­ment, Adobe released its 2014 Mobile Bench­mark Report, which called out the cor­re­la­tion between smart­phone screen size and over­all browser mar­ket share. “iPhone screen size has to increase,” it stated. “With­out the intro­duc­tion of a larger phone, Apple’s browser share will decline fur­ther. Con­sumers pre­fer to browse on phones with 5” or larger screens. Brows­ing on 4” devices fell by 11% YoY.” Those phones with larger screens—specifically, larger than Apple’s stan­dard 4”—are post­ing higher Web traf­fic num­bers than ever.

Inter­est­ingly, amid the demand for larger smart­phone screen sizes, con­sumer engage­ment on tablets has plateaued. Last year, tablet brows­ing was inch­ing ahead of smart­phones, and experts antic­i­pated these num­bers would only increase. But, instead, the larger-screen phones are eclips­ing both “stan­dard” and smaller smart­phones as well as their larger tablet coun­ter­parts. With this intro­duc­tion, the expe­ri­ence of work­ing, shop­ping, engag­ing, and social­iz­ing will be ele­vated from day one, likely impact­ing both Apple browser share and over­all usage and engage­ment num­bers within the smart­phone realm.

Com­pound all that with the notion of the “mobile elite” emerg­ing from Adobe’s Mobile Con­sumer Sur­vey and momen­tum builds even more. More on the sur­vey in the next few days but, in short, this study brought to light a new breed of “mobile elite”—now 22 per­cent of the online US adult community—spending more time and money within the space. They’re doing every­thing from bank­ing to mak­ing every­day pur­chases, book­ing travel, read­ing mag­a­zines, and engag­ing on social media on their mobile devices. Marry that with the increased trac­tion for larger screen smart­phones plus the over­all spikes in mobile engage­ment, and the impli­ca­tions for mar­keters world­wide are stag­ger­ing. More on the mobile elite to come next week—and by then, they might just be lined up around the prover­bial (and lit­eral) cor­ner for their phones. Con­ver­sions will no doubt spike among early adopters; how­ever, retail­ers and mar­keters shouldn’t get too excited in the short term—much of this buzz can be attrib­uted to these par­tic­u­larly high-converting customers.

Money goes high tech

Apple also announced it would be replac­ing its wal­let sys­tem, ele­vat­ing the pay­ment piece of the trans­ac­tion process. Apple Pay will roll out in Octo­ber as a stan­dard fea­ture, stor­ing secure pay­ment infor­ma­tion for its user. “And now, with just a touch, you’ve paid. It’s that fast, it’s that easy,” explains Apple SVP Eddy Cue. Credit and debit card infor­ma­tion will be stored—and encrypted—then used for NFC-enabled con­tact­less pay­ment at retail. Card num­bers and indi­vid­ual pur­chases aren’t stored on the device but, instead, Apple Pay cre­ates “a device-only account num­ber,” that’s stored and, each time the con­sumer makes a pur­chase, Apple uses “a one-time pay­ment num­ber along with a dynamic secu­rity code.” Should your iPhone be lost or stolen, “you can use Find my iPhone and sus­pend all of the pay­ments from that device and again, because the credit card isn’t stored on the device, there’s no need to can­cel your credit card.”

Retail check­out becomes almost obso­lete in some instances—just grab, scan, and go. What’s more, once the “per­sonal” nature of the trans­ac­tion is eliminated—you’re no longer pulling out cash or even a credit card, scan­ning, sign­ing, and tak­ing your receipt—brands may be able to lever­age this sim­plic­ity to increase aver­age pur­chase trans­ac­tions and fre­quency. Think about apps like Uber and Seam­less. No longer do you have to process expen­di­tures. Instead, in a swipe or two, you can order a car—and take­out from that car. Or think about me, tak­ing my fam­ily to Dis­ney World for Christ­mas, and using Apple Pay around the resort—so convenient.

Wear­able tech­nol­ogy leaps ahead

Has any­thing been more buzzed about than the iWatch? Wear­able tech­nol­ogy has boomed in the last year and, just a few months ago, I cited the poten­tial for this year to be the year of wearables—and this could be the boost this $4.5 bil­lion indus­try needs to be just that.

The Apple Watch—launching in early 2015—features a “dig­i­tal crown” that enables wear­ers to scroll, zoom, and nav­i­gate the stan­dard iPhone touch screen. Watches will be equipped with Apple Pay and will mimic many core iPhone ele­ments includ­ing maps, noti­fi­ca­tions, cal­en­dars, and Siri, in addi­tion to “tra­di­tional” wear­able tech ele­ments such as a heart rate mon­i­tor. But it’s cer­tainly no replace­ment for the phone itself—watch users must use an iPhone in coordination.

Like I said in my ear­lier post, the launch of Apple Watch will answer many of the ques­tions mar­keters have been rumi­nat­ing on since the early buzz started. How some of the com­mer­cial and eth­i­cal impli­ca­tions (can mar­keters lever­age some of the deeply per­sonal infor­ma­tion they’d have access to, specif­i­cally) will play out is anyone’s guess. I, for one, would hap­pily allow my Nest to sync with my Apple Watch heart rate mon­i­tor, and cool off my house when it knows I’ve been run­ning. But that’s just me.

Half of Amer­i­can house­holds are Apple households—not tak­ing heed of Tuesday’s announce­ments is like work­ing with one eye shut. The prod­uct and tech­nol­ogy intro­duc­tions have mas­sive impli­ca­tions for brands and mar­keters in every ver­ti­cal of the indus­try. From greater shop­ping and brows­ing engage­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties to even more ways to be on the go with con­sumers and, now, impli­ca­tions for the fast-growing “elite” seg­ment of the mobile pop­u­la­tion, there’s some­thing for every­one and, more so, plenty to rumi­nate on to ensure your opti­miza­tion and per­son­al­iza­tion tac­tics are aligned. Besides all that, I’m eager to watch the trends as adop­tion lev­els out, drilling down on every­thing from iOS vs. Android, phone vs. tablet vs. fablet, and, from there, by cus­tomer seg­ment, indus­try type, and much more. And I’m (almost equally) excited to get U2’s new album for free.

 

Kevin Lindsay

Kevin Lindsay heads up product marketing for Adobe Target. He is an expert on conversion optimization and personalization, and speaks frequently at industry events around the globe. Lindsay was with Omniture prior to its acquisition by Adobe, and previously held product and strategic marketing positions at search software companies Mercado and Verity. Lindsay is a Canadian expat who enjoys life with his family in the hills above Silicon Valley.

 

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