Magazine article Marketing

Incomplete Application

Magazine article Marketing

Incomplete Application

Article excerpt

The potential of mobile phone downloads as a marketing tool may be limited, writes Fiona Ramsay.

Apps (applications) for mobile phones have quickly become the latest advertising bandwagon. However, questions remain over whether they create real affinity with consumers.

Probably the most famous example of a marketing app is the iPint Created for the iPhone last year by Beattie McGuinness Bungay, it allows users to 'pour' and then 'drink' a virtual pint of Carling lager. The free software has been downloaded several million times from Apple's App Store.

While the iPint generated significant buzz - in part due to a lawsuit brought against Carling by app-creator Hottrix for allegedly ripping off its iBeer app - some agencies argue that it is difficult to measure the real value of these small computer programmes to brands.

Last month, the Apple App Store, which was launched in July 2008, marked its billionth download. Apple's marketing team has been quick to catch on to consumer interest. Its TV ads focus not on the device but on the ease of use of iPhone applications, with the strapline 'There's an app for that'.

However, it should be remembered that Apple still has a market share of less than 2% of the global mobile phone market, and its iPhone is a relatively expensive device available from only one UK mobile operator, O2. So should cash-strapped marketers be investing in branded applications?

Simon Davies, marketing director of Coors Brewers, which owns Carling, said the iPint was the 'right application for the moment' as it came out shortly after the 3G iPhone had launched in the UK, at a time when people were keen to show off the capabilities of the handset. He admits it would be difficult for Carling to release another app with the same level of success.

Gareth Phillips, managing director of interactive agency Syzygy, says the iPint 'set the benchmark for entertainment apps'. Other brands are catching on and offering free quality content. Cobra Beer's iBanter app, for instance, enables users to hold their iPhones up to their faces while playing close-up video of a comedian's mouth to give the impression that they are telling the joke.

Matthew Charlton, managing director of ad agency Modernista! …

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