Application downloads add up with ads for iPhone

Few would argue Apple's hip, progressive marketing plays an enormous role in the success of products from Macs to iPods, and now there's compelling proof its advertising efforts translate to increased consumer attention in iPhone applications as well.  According to a new smartphone user study conducted by web research firm Compete, 79 percent of iPhone owners have now downloaded a game from the App Store--entertainment applications are close behind at 78 percent, followed by weather (57 percent) and music (55 percent). Twenty-five percent of iPhone users name Facebook as one of the three applications they use most often, while 7 percent cite music discovery app Shazam and 5 percent specify calorie-counting tool Lose It. What's interesting about Shazam and Lose It in regards to the Compete study is that both applications were featured in iPhone television commercials during the time the survey was conducted, suggesting the potent influence of mass media on what consumers download and their subsequent usage patterns.  

For developers, most of whom boast neither the financial resources nor the marketing acumen to effectively advertise their applications, Apple's commercials for the iPhone, the iPod touch and the App Store have proven to be a godsend. But Apple is also courting a different consumer demographic via print ads that even better underscore the depth and scope of applications available to iPhone users. The latest, a full-page color ad featured on the back page of the front section of this past Sunday's New York Times, features no fewer than 16 different iPhone applications, all tied together under the tagline "Helping you stretch your budget, one app at a time." The spotlighted apps run the gamut from location-based services (Spotasaurus, which enables users to find parking garages in dozens of cities and compare their rates) to financial tools (Loan Shark, which analyzes all facets of a loan including interest, principal and amortization schedules) to shopper services (Save Benjis, which offers pricing comparisons between online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores).

"iPhone users have already downloaded 1 billion [apps], in every category from games to business," the print advertisement concludes, but what's most intriguing about the ad is how it portrays the smartphone as something more substantial than a gaming device or an enterprise tool--instead, the iPhone is positioned as whatever the consumer needs and wants it to be, armed with a seemingly endless supply of applications that simplify and improve virtually any scenario or situation. By pitching 16 wildly different yet compatible applications that all share the same money-saving, belt-tightening value proposition, Apple communicates the kind of persuasive, universal marketing message that 16 individual app advertisements couldn't possibly replicate. At 35,000 different applications and counting, the App Store promises a new kind of consumer experience increasingly rooted in two of the oldest clichés: Variety is the spice of life, and there's strength in numbers. -Jason