Big companies are getting in on iPhone app action as they realize that future generations want (and eventually will expect) to be able to access their favorite retail chains, banks, and software from their iPhone. Here is a look at how a few big-brand companies are leveraging the iPhone app market to increase their brand-visibility.
The iPhone App Store Launches and the Rush to Fill it with Apps
The iPhone App Store launched on July 11, 2008. Within three weeks, over nine hundred apps had been introduced by third party developers, but many of these were by smaller companies, not big brand names (Source: New York Post, July 28, 2008). In the first weekend, Apple stated, iPhone users downloaded over ten million apps, and CEO Steve Jobs called it ‘a grand slam’ (Source: Apple.com).
The first iPhone app from a big brand to appear at the App Store was Bank of America’s iPhone app, which allows bank customers to find the closest ATM or check their balances online.
Retailers Try to Figure Out the iPhone
Both The Gap and Target launched iPhone apps in time for the holiday shopping season, but both have received luke-warm responses from users.
The Gap’s Merry Mixed Carols iPhone app features five Christmas Carols sung by a random assortment of carolers, including Rainn Wilson (of The Office), Jon Heder (aka Napoleon Dynamite), the Dixie Chicks, and comic Sandra Bernhard, amongst others. You can then mix and match different Gap outfits on their celebrity male and female models, and when you’re ready to purchase, you can find the nearest Gap store closest to your current location.
Target’s iPhone app is a slightly less interesting gift finder, whose only unique feature is that when you shake your iPhone like a snow globe, a random gift will appear on your screen.
Will The Gap’s trendy celebrity viral videos and Target’s gift finder translate into more sales this Christmas season? Considering the economic downturn, it seems unlikely that their iPhone apps will lead to a vast increase in sales. However, even if their new iPhone apps aren’t worth hours of entertainment, they are ahead of many other retailers in increasing their brand visibility in the Brave New World of iPhone apps.
Do Stores Already Online Hold an Advantage?
But it’s not just brick-and-mortar stores who are trying to increase their brand visibility through the medium of the iPhone app; even companies whose primary business is already online, like Amazon and Google, are also in on the iPhone app game. Amazon Mobile, the Amazon iPhone app, simplifies the Amazon search experience and allows users to store snapshots of products they are interested in so they can come back to them later.
The Weather Channel, too, has taken its popular Weather.com site and created an iPhone app to increase its own brand visibility. Some users complain that the app is not very stable yet, crashing often, and that it does not offer much more than the iPhone’s regular weather app (also based on Weather.com data, interestingly enough). But The Weather Channel’s iPhone app also offers video, which the regular iPhone weather app does not (Source: CNet.com).
Overall, it seems likely that many big businesses will soon be getting into the iPhone app market to increase their brand visibility (and so that their competitors don’t have an iPhone presence before they do). It is really interesting to see small developers compete with big business giants on an equal playing field.
For more information on iPod touch apps or to read more in-depth reviews of iPhone apps visit AppCraver today. AppCraver is dedicated to iPhone apps, news, reviews and interviews with iPhone application developers.