BLOG: Tamara's Tech Marketing Tips

Is Apple’s Halo Slipping?

Businessman with haloApple has enjoyed a long reign as a marketing and product genius. Compared to Microsoft’s evil empire and Google’s big-brother concerns (while claiming to “do no evil”), Apple was a darling and Steve Jobs its Golden Boy. Only a company like Apple can have parents keeping their children home from school (yes, I saw someone tweet this) for a new product launch. But with its moves recently, I have to wonder, is the halo slipping?

Ruler of Apps
I have an iPhone and I believe that I benefit from Apple’s closed environment by having an easy-to-use interface, reliable hardware (for the most part), and an easy-to-access store for digital content. Granted I have to put up with sucky mobile service from AT&T, but overall, I couldn’t be happier with my phone.

But as a developer, I might have a different point of view. Yes, I get access to a large audience (if my app is found), but I am entirely dependent on Apple to approve or reject my app according to their own schedule, not mine. Not to mention that with the proliferation of smartphones, I’d now need to bring on (hard-to-find) developers to build apps for Android, Palm, BlackBerry and others.

You know I’m not a big fan on just jumping on the app bandwagon, but Mark Suster said it best, “App is Crap…Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.” I’m with you Mark, mobile web is going to be the new king and Apple’s power play is going to make developers and brands realize it even more quickly.

Dictator of Mobile Advertising
When Apple bought Quattro Wireless, a mobile ad network with a significant in-app footprint, there was much speculation on what this would mean for mobile advertising. Well, we’ve had our first glance. The dictators at Apple are again jumping in to tell application developers that they cannot expose location information for the sole purpose of location-based advertising. (Read more on Mobile Marketer) So yes, companies like Loopt, UrbanSpoon, and Foursquare, that offer location-based results in their applications or okay. But if you offer a pinball game, you are not allowed to access location information to enable location-based advertising.

Talk about crap – this doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe there isn’t a tie in between pinball and location but what if I’m in the New York Times app. Will I find an ad for a McDonalds’ special offer more valuable if it also shows me where the closest location is? NYT doesn’t need my location to deliver national news…but they can deliver more relevant advertising?

So who are we really looking out for here? Apple would say consumers, but I think deep down, they are looking out for Apple and want to control the location-based mobile advertising experience within iPhone apps using their mobile ad network. Why? Some say for a piece of the pie. It hasn’t been part of Apple’s business model before to generate revenue from advertising, but why else would they spend $275 million on Quattro?

The whole point of advertising should be to provide information, utility or entertainment to consumers in a way that is relevant and entertaining. I don’t want to pay for my content so I get it that I’m going to see ads. I’d prefer to see ads that are relevant to me, where I am, and what I am doing. I might actually click on those.

So come on Apple, take a step back and straighten that halo a bit. You don’t have to control everything to be a success.

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