Apple’s September 9th announcements weren’t just about its new iPhone. Instead, the tech giant took full advantage of the captive, global audience and rolled out the new after the new, from smartphone and tablet advances to cutting-edge wearable technology and a digital pay system. These trends don’t just impact Apple consumers and stakeholders, they also signal major industry shifts for brand marketers, e-commerce sites, and content providers. Because where Apple—and its 55 million+ US households—goes, testing, optimization, and personalization extensions must follow. Here’s what we’re focusing on.
Larger screens mean better experiences
With its 4.7” retina HD display, the iPhone 6 boasts a nearly 18 percent larger screen than the iPhone 5 models, and the 6 Plus dwarfs them all, with a massive 5.5” screen. It seemed a necessary step—just one day before the announcement, Adobe released its 2014 Mobile Benchmark Report, which called out the correlation between smartphone screen size and overall browser market share. “iPhone screen size has to increase,” it stated. “Without the introduction of a larger phone, Apple’s browser share will decline further. Consumers prefer to browse on phones with 5” or larger screens. Browsing on 4” devices fell by 11% YoY.” Those phones with larger screens—specifically, larger than Apple’s standard 4”—are posting higher Web traffic numbers than ever.
Interestingly, amid the demand for larger smartphone screen sizes, consumer engagement on tablets has plateaued. Last year, tablet browsing was inching ahead of smartphones, and experts anticipated these numbers would only increase. But, instead, the larger-screen phones are eclipsing both “standard” and smaller smartphones as well as their larger tablet counterparts. With this introduction, the experience of working, shopping, engaging, and socializing will be elevated from day one, likely impacting both Apple browser share and overall usage and engagement numbers within the smartphone realm.
Compound all that with the notion of the “mobile elite” emerging from Adobe’s Mobile Consumer Survey and momentum builds even more. More on the survey in the next few days but, in short, this study brought to light a new breed of “mobile elite”—now 22 percent of the online US adult community—spending more time and money within the space. They’re doing everything from banking to making everyday purchases, booking travel, reading magazines, and engaging on social media on their mobile devices. Marry that with the increased traction for larger screen smartphones plus the overall spikes in mobile engagement, and the implications for marketers worldwide are staggering. More on the mobile elite to come next week—and by then, they might just be lined up around the proverbial (and literal) corner for their phones. Conversions will no doubt spike among early adopters; however, retailers and marketers shouldn’t get too excited in the short term—much of this buzz can be attributed to these particularly high-converting customers.
Money goes high tech
Apple also announced it would be replacing its wallet system, elevating the payment piece of the transaction process. Apple Pay will roll out in October as a standard feature, storing secure payment information for its user. “And now, with just a touch, you’ve paid. It’s that fast, it’s that easy,” explains Apple SVP Eddy Cue. Credit and debit card information will be stored—and encrypted—then used for NFC-enabled contactless payment at retail. Card numbers and individual purchases aren’t stored on the device but, instead, Apple Pay creates “a device-only account number,” that’s stored and, each time the consumer makes a purchase, Apple uses “a one-time payment number along with a dynamic security code.” Should your iPhone be lost or stolen, “you can use Find my iPhone and suspend all of the payments from that device and again, because the credit card isn’t stored on the device, there’s no need to cancel your credit card.”
Retail checkout becomes almost obsolete in some instances—just grab, scan, and go. What’s more, once the “personal” nature of the transaction is eliminated—you’re no longer pulling out cash or even a credit card, scanning, signing, and taking your receipt—brands may be able to leverage this simplicity to increase average purchase transactions and frequency. Think about apps like Uber and Seamless. No longer do you have to process expenditures. Instead, in a swipe or two, you can order a car—and takeout from that car. Or think about me, taking my family to Disney World for Christmas, and using Apple Pay around the resort—so convenient.
Wearable technology leaps ahead
Has anything been more buzzed about than the iWatch? Wearable technology has boomed in the last year and, just a few months ago, I cited the potential for this year to be the year of wearables—and this could be the boost this $4.5 billion industry needs to be just that.
The Apple Watch—launching in early 2015—features a “digital crown” that enables wearers to scroll, zoom, and navigate the standard iPhone touch screen. Watches will be equipped with Apple Pay and will mimic many core iPhone elements including maps, notifications, calendars, and Siri, in addition to “traditional” wearable tech elements such as a heart rate monitor. But it’s certainly no replacement for the phone itself—watch users must use an iPhone in coordination.
Like I said in my earlier post, the launch of Apple Watch will answer many of the questions marketers have been ruminating on since the early buzz started. How some of the commercial and ethical implications (can marketers leverage some of the deeply personal information they’d have access to, specifically) will play out is anyone’s guess. I, for one, would happily allow my Nest to sync with my Apple Watch heart rate monitor, and cool off my house when it knows I’ve been running. But that’s just me.
Half of American households are Apple households—not taking heed of Tuesday’s announcements is like working with one eye shut. The product and technology introductions have massive implications for brands and marketers in every vertical of the industry. From greater shopping and browsing engagement opportunities to even more ways to be on the go with consumers and, now, implications for the fast-growing “elite” segment of the mobile population, there’s something for everyone and, more so, plenty to ruminate on to ensure your optimization and personalization tactics are aligned. Besides all that, I’m eager to watch the trends as adoption levels out, drilling down on everything from iOS vs. Android, phone vs. tablet vs. fablet, and, from there, by customer segment, industry type, and much more. And I’m (almost equally) excited to get U2’s new album for free.