Photo of iPhoneThe iPhone is a beautiful device- but it’s an even better marketing case study.
Up until the iPhone mobile phone service providers like Cingular, Verizon, T-mobile, Sprint, Nextel, Blackberry etc. talked about coverage, price, service, products or service. Differentiation techniques included Nextel’s walkie-talkie function, T-mobile’s five friend deal, Verizon with their “network” and “Can you hear me know” tagline, AT&T claimed more bars, Sprint had “an all digital network” and Blackberry delivered e-mail.
Now- everyone is looking for an iPhone killer- with multi-touch screens coming fast and furious and a new look at “Smart Phone” features. But what the telco’s are missing is that the iPhone phenomena isn’t about technology, it’s not about cool design, it’s not (well almost not) about status- it’s about providing a better user experience. It’s experiential marketing- and it’s something all the Telcos have missed from day one.
Apple understands the integration of form, function and the user experience better than most brands. What has set a Macintosh apart from the competition isn’t just the superior industrial design- but the experience of working with a computer. Apple integrates the hardware and the software to just work better and has from day one. Plug-n-play has been the standard since the Mac launched- no configuration necessary. It’s that kind of approach to the integration of technology into the users life that’s making Apple the instant king of the mobile telecom market.
For example: after the third time my non-smart phone had died- and I couldn’t restore my contacts with the help of the people at the Sprint store- I switched to a “Smart phone” that allowed me to sync my contacts to my computer. How hard could it be for Sprint to keep my data backed up on their server for a phone? Easy- and privacy shouldn’t be an issue- since they already log all my calls. Has Sprint thought about that? Of course not- they aren’t concerned with the user- except when the bill doesn’t get paid.
It’s been said that the cell phone is the most important fashion accessory to teens. Marketers who still believe in brand loyalty- always strive to reach this market to develop long lasting relationships- yet few have really analyzed what the teen market wants. Outside of the price of the iPhone- it integrates the complete students wardrobe electronic accessory closet- a music/video player, a phone, a camera, e-mail and IM functions, web browsing. Except for the missing video camera- this is the ultimate teen toy. And if you think price is an issue- remember the first 5gb iPods were $500 and didn’t take long to own 70+% of the mp3 player market.
Apple is once again showing an entire industry that changing the experience of how consumers use a device is more important than price, service, or your “brand.”
Differentiation/innovation is the only sustainable competitive advantage in marketing. Lower prices and sales aren’t what they used to be. Providing a better experience is what is turning the iPhone into the fast selling consumer electronics device ever.
How can you change your delivery of products and services into a better, simpler, easier experience? That should be your first step in marketing anything today.
That’s the next wave in marketing and innovation.