Craig Hodges

Basic Lessons for iPhone Apps

What are you doing on iPhone? If "bugger all" is your answer, then it might be time to read up on a basic approach to assessing new application opportunities. Here are a few basic lessons we can take from a few simple and clever iPhone applications. Each has incorporated at least one element of Apple's 'High Technology' features (capabilities) found in iPhone (Multi-Touch, GPS, Accelerometer & Sensors).

Apple has given smart thinking strategists, creatives and developers plenty of hooks to conceive and launch innovative iPhone & iPod Touch applications.

Chuck Squatriglia wrote an insightful Wired Article “Think You’re Fast?” about two automotive iPhone applications that use built-in iPhone capabilities. My response was immediate: Bravo to the creatives and developers behind them!

Both Dynolicious and g-tac use the accelerometer built into the iPhone and iPod Touch to tell you in no uncertain terms whether you drive like Lewis Hamilton." 

These highly engaging applications, clearly for speedy iPhone owners, are simple and smart. In essence they distinguish themselves by their clever use of the iPhone accelerometer feature, which makes them highly relevant and engaging for their target audiences.

So, here’s what I believe we can learn from these applications strategically, if we hypothetically backtrack on the development process and look for a few simple lessons…

Lesson # 1: Understand iPhone’s and iPod Touch capabilities. There's no excuse. In this case, knowing that the iPhone had an accelerometer built-in was an important starting point. It's close to the bleeding obvious, but knowing the workings of each of the iPhone features and capabilities may well provide you and your team with a host of new commercial avenues to explore when combined with stimulating application creatives. In short - know exactly what these things can do! Do you know? Can you rattle them off one by one?

Lesson # 2: Research where these types of capabilities/feature are currently being used elsewhere. In this case, plainly the automotive industry uses accelerometers in all shapes and sizes. There was evidently a natural fit here. So look into various industries and understand who is using these capabilities and how?

Lesson # 3Study the market and interest groups or sub-cultures in each applicable industry. In this case, understand the cross-over of various market segments and the varied profiles within them. For the example above, here we have iPhone owners who are also car lovers and who are into performance and measuring that performance. (Just think Autobarn's mailing list)

Audience Size & Early Adopters: When considering apps and audiences, be sure to ask this however, is it a sizeable enough audience to warrant building an application for? Unfortunately in this respect Apple isn't helpful, as we aren't privy to Australian stats or numbers of iPhone owners. All their publicly available figures are Global figures and Apple press releases on early numbers are now somewhat dated. That said, don't overlook the power of word-of-mouth when it comes to reaching the early adopters however, they can immeasurably impress their friends and contacts by showing or literally demonstrating your app to others. My MD does this all the time. I have lost count of how many times he has shown non-iPhone users the simple Carling Beer iPhone app.

Lesson # 4: Do it! Commit! If you are a Brand - get out there and identify your progressive brand with a novel iPhone AppsIf you are a developer, start you approach my speaking to bold brand managers and their media agencies. Now is the time. Be the first brand to OWN or be strongly associated with an 'application type'. Build an early and strong rapport with users of your application and have them migrate to each new version of your iPhone app! Full marks for Audi in this regard, as can be seen below.

Audi iPhone Application

 

Audi appears to be the first major automotive company to make positive promotional use of the iPhone with a free application 'Audi A4 Challenge". The application is now available free of charge on Apple's iPhone Application Store. 

Finally the team here at Additude are keen to hear your views on similar such clever applications should you have a moment.

My challenge to you, my well-read fellow Digital MInistry reader, is to share your knowledge and be proactive in bringing this device to life with full featured apps! 


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