Marketers take note: the iPhone is now a decade old

It has been an emotional journey as Apple’s iPhone turns 10 this year. Hailed as a device that sparked the smartphone evolution, the iPhone has had far-reaching effects on business and marketing. 

Some of the implications for marketers are not so obvious and may have been taken for granted. Thus, to mark the occasion, let’s review the opportunities marketers have enjoyed as well as lessons we can all learn from the iPhone. 


Anywhere, everywhere

We can say the iPhone’s launch put the “mobile” into “mobile phone” and “smart” into “smartphone.” Not that we weren’t able to carry mobile phones with us before then, but Apple truly redefined “mobility” and what we can do while on the go.

This graph shows what users back in 2007 thought they would use the iPhone for. Fast forward to 2017, we could almost do everything with it. 

Source: eMarketer
Source: eMarketer

Real-time, instantaneous and convenient access to information has prompted consumers to consume content and interact with brands on mobile a lot more.

Without realising this silent evolution, marketers have since then tried to optimise the reading experience on mobile devices, whether on a browser or an email client. Examples include things like responsive, lightweight mobile sites (Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages), email templates and so on.

Also related to content on mobile is how marketers have optimised for information research SEO and SEM-wise.


New marketing channels 

Apple’s ecosystem of operating systems and apps have presented new ways to reach consumers. Currently, there’re approximately 2.2 million apps in the App Store.

The standards of iPhone apps have appealed to numerous entrepreneurs who created highly addictive apps. From social media (e.g. Facebook), games (e.g. Pokemon Go), messaging to business apps, marketers can work with all kinds of mobile ads, sponsored content, and more recently, branded chatbots.

The app store optimisation practice itself is a useful reminder of how important it is to optimise for content discovery. People discover new apps when they can find answers to their queries. Just like you would on desktop search engines, relevant keywords, images and descriptions should be optimised. 


Community building

Why do we say Apple’s iPhone has a cult following? Marketers can perhaps learn from the tech giant’s tactics to spur excitement and engagement.

The iPhone launch event has somehow become Apple’s signature event: a pragmatic-looking, non-dressed-up executive talking about how the device is going to be the next best thing. Take a look at how Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone ever. 

Source: ZDNet
Source: ZDNet

Then there is also Apple’s integrated and sophisticated marketing efforts, utilising effective channels such as influencers, PR and even rumours of the next iPhone. 

This is the kind of earned media that any marketer would dream to have for their brand, the kind of fans willing to pay a premium that any business would die to have.


Form goes with function

But why do people keep coming back to the iPhone? For a simple reason, Apple is big on great design and user experience. As Steve Jobs famously said: “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

What does this mean for marketing? If your content is outstanding, but the presentation is poor, you may lose to those who know how to capture people’s eyeballs. 

Follow Linh Dao on Twitter @LinhContent