By Brian Blank, PepperDigital

Five years ago the iPhone came on the market amid a flurry of speculation, hype and uncertainty but little did we know this ‘sexy’ device would change the world. When the iPhone hit the scene in 2007, RIM’s BlackBerry devices ruled the mobile office warrior realm, Symbian was the world’s largest mobile OS, Palm OS was a viable option and powerhouse, Microsoft Windows had a plethora of programs and apps and Nokia was a dominant force in the handset market. Fast forward five years, RIM and Symbion are struggling holding onto under 2% of the mobile OS market, Palm is now defunct and rolled the OS into webOS, and Microsoft missed a great opportunity coming late to the app-driven smartphone market.

The iPhone changed the way we communicate and created a new, thriving ecosystem with the ability to create applications for the device with the launch of the App Store nine months after the phone hit the shelves. Not only has it changes the landscape of the mobile industry – it has changed the landscape of Apple.

Steve Jobs cleaned house when he came back to Apple in 1997, eliminating many redundant products to streamline the company into the culture we know today. Along the way the company innovated with the iPod and the iTunes store but that would be just the tip of the iceberg. Today, the iPhone accounts for over 40% of the company’s revenue and has given marketers a new vehicle to engage with our customers and fans.

The second-screen experience – using a laptop, tablet or smartphone in conjunction with the TV viewing experience – has taken off with devices like the iPhone and the iPad in conjunction with social networks and social media such as Facebook and Twitter. This gives brands the opportunity to create new avenues to support programming in a more engaging and memorable way than traditional advertising, tap into trends, and be a part of what is capturing the audience’s attention without taking away from the experience.

For marketers and PR professionals, the iPhone has given us many reasons to celebrate (and a few head scratching moments along the way too). The iPhone has presented new business avenues – from pitching new apps, to developing strategies to communicate with audiences and to just communicating better internally.

Whether or not you have an iPhone, BlackBerry or Android phone, you have to thank Apple and the iPhone for pushing the boundaries and changing the market in a positive way. To see the impact the iPhone has had over the last five, Statista put together this interesting infographic. What was your first impression of the iPhone?

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By Jonah Bromwich, PepperDigital

It was a scene straight out of a Hollywood fever dream—complete with a larger than life villain with an absurd moniker, a worldwide criminal enterprise, and lots of money at stake.  When Megaupload magnate Kim Dotcom was arrested on January 20th, it signaled the end of an era for a certain kind of internet troll.  Before it was shut down in the United States, Megaupload had become the 13th most popular site on the internet, frequented by practiced file-sharers who had gotten used to downloading large amounts of content, particularly in the form of music, free of charge.

While the end of Megaupload didn’t stop illegal file sharing altogether (far from it, in fact) it signaled an opportunity for more legitimate music sources to ensnare consumers looking for new ways to consume.  The Megaupload collapse will have left users scrambling for a new site, and there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t start downloading music legally, if presented with a viable, easy-to-use option.  Apple may be responding to that need by remodeling their iTunes Store model but will that be enough to stop these one-time music thieves from returning to their criminal ways?  With overall music scales growing in 2011 for the first time since 2004, it seems entirely possible that digital sales could erupt if greedy fans can’t find an easier way to access the music they crave.  However, lowering prices on albums and offering more free content would help to make the transition even smoother.

But there’s another option for former criminal downloaders.  While file-sharing sites appeal to a certain kind of music listener—one who also fancies himself as a collector and places a high priority on owning information—there are plenty of people who are happy using music databases to stream their favorite tunes.  Services such as the instantaneously popular Spotify have a lot to gain from the sudden collection of music junkies floating around the web.  The free streaming and ease of use that Spotify has become known for will be extremely attractive to former Megaupload users, who are accustomed to listening to exactly what they want, when they want it.

It’s up to the music industry to seize this opportunity and lure these music thieves back over to the right side of the law.  With the government supplying the vinegar in the form of police raids and crackdowns, all the industry needs to do is provide a little honey to ensure that these flies are back where they belong—purchasing or streaming their music from legitimate sources.

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By Carl Foster, PepperDigital

Everyone knows that Blackberries are for businesspeople and iPhones are for regular consumers (at least until Android’s success hems Apple into its walled garden). But a trend I have only heard rumours about picked up some mainstream media coverage this week – Blackberries being popular with teenagers.

The article in the Guardian – BlackBerry has become teenagers’ smartphone of choice – looked at what is giving rise to this trend. First and foremost it comes down to price, and not just the network costs (£5 cheaper for BB over iPhone) or the price of the handset (£200-£300 for iPhone vs. nothing for the BB). The real clincher though is Blackberry’s free instant messaging service, which is apparently now the primary way most BB wielding teens keep in touch with each other. As the 19 year-old author of the article says, she could keep in touch with friends in the UK while travelling around Europe for free and avoid text messaging or expensive European roaming charges.

Blackberry-messenger

A word of warning though for any teens in Saudi Arabia going to buy a BB with the hope of using BB Messenger: Don’t. From tomorrow it will be stopped due to ‘security concerns’, mainly the inability of the government to keep tabs on this type of communication – the UAE and India are looking to impose similar bans. Not good for business hubs such as Dubai and Mumbai.

But such issues aside, what strikes me about this trend is that no matter how much market research a company does it’s impossible to predict how consumers will react to your product. This trend reminds me of the increase in sales of Hush Puppies, identified by Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Tipping Point. Apparently all the cool kids were buying these ‘old fashioned’ shoes from little independent shops. Others started to copy these opinion formers until Hush Puppies appeared on the catwalk and a brand was reborn. It certainly seems to be ‘cool’ for a teenager to have a BB. I doubt whether the demand from this demographic can pump up RIM’s battered share price following the restrictions being put in place by certain governments, but I’m sure its generating some

interesting conversations in the company’s marketing and product planning departments.

Teenagers_with_cellphones-WEB




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