How the iPhone got marketers talking to the hand

The release of the first iPhone 10 years ago today marked the start of the smartphone era and wholeheartedly changed the marketing landscape forever.

Many of the significant changes in human behaviour over the last decade can be attributed to this small but incredibly powerful device. There have been resulting shifts in way we communicate, the way we buy and the way we research and as such, a requirement for marketers to adapt their thinking and approaches to ‘mobile-first’.

This is highlighted by 2017 mobile usage data from comScore which shows mobile devices dominating total minutes spent online. In the UK, mobile’s share of digital minutes is reportedly 61%; in Indonesia this rises to 91%!

A decade ago, we weren’t necessarily considering site responsiveness, apps, geo-targeted SMS, push notifications, mobile video, photo filters, or disappearing messages – certainly not to the extent we are today. The iPhone has been instrumental in the cut-through of these techniques and their prominence in today’s marketing plans. The marketing mix has changed beyond all recognition.

From a social media perspective, the rise and rise of the iPhone (and its ‘smart’ competitors) has had momentous impact. In my opinion, the need for brands to be ‘always on’ has been a direct effect of having such capable and connected devices in the palms of so many people’s hands, so frequently. Let’s face it, most of us feel genuinely lost if we leave home without one!

Consider this: wherever your brand’s fans/followers are these days, the likelihood is they’re never more than an arm stretch away from getting in touch, checking out your social media real estate or spending (online) time with your brand on a small(ish) screen.

Customer complaints and compliments are instant – no need to return to your desktop to post a delayed review or share feedback (if you remember), and brand crises can spread like handheld wildfire.

Users’ expectations have changed too. Instant gratification or acknowledgement for engaging with a brand is not just coveted, it’s expected. I’d say we have Steve Jobs to thank for this somewhat crazy connectedness! Never has the need for marketing and communications to be real-time and personal been so prominent.

With all this in mind, perhaps marketers should have a new mantra… ‘Talking to the hand’ has always been a derogatory notion but it seems increasingly like a positive necessity these days.

All thanks to the ever-present iPhone.

Talk to The Crocodile about optimising your marketing campaigns for mobile.