iPhone applications: It’s time to take them seriously

Apple iPhoneI just got back from a ski trip during which my new Apple iPhone got put to active use. I used it for finding restaurants, checking weather conditions, investigating movie options and getting directions. It is now clear to me that the iPhone (and, by extension, other similar devices) is invaluable to consumers and therefore important for marketers.

There are two things that marketers can do immediately to improve their favorability with the growing base of iPhone users. The first is to modify their websites to be used by consumers more easily. While the iPhone offers a view of a website as is, the experience on the small screen is not always great. Charles Schwab works around this really well with a modified site that is optimized for wireless devices. My favorite movie theater, Alamo Drafthouse, doesn’t. The difference makes a significant impression about the brand.

The second action is to create or sponsor iPhone applications. One iteration of this strategy is to create an application that addresses action number one above, that is to say, one that improves the use of your existing Web content. USA Today, The Weather Channel, Facebook and Pandora are apps on my phone that work well. The second iteration is to create an application or sponsor one for new content. The North Face and REI have been in the news lately by offering ski report apps. There are a new apps being created every day that have potential brand integration possibilities. 2009 is the year to explore the possibilities.

Who do you believe is doing the best job of leveraging the iPhone for marketing purposes?