Disposable iPhone apps

iphone_apps
I’ve recently noticed several conventions, festivals and movies spending their marketing dollars on iPhone development.  This is an interesting trend that we will see more of in the near future.

iPhone applications built for specific events have brief windows of time where their content is relevant and useful to the customer.  Syfy’s San Diego ComicCon (iTunes) and the Lollapalooza music festival (iTunes) apps contain extremely useful features for time sensitive events.  Schedules, maps, personalized calendars, photo galleries and photo sharing features are contained within these apps, making them very handy for a short period of time.

The ComicCon app was released July 12th, only 11 days before the convention; and the Lollapalooza app was released July 19th, only 20 days before the music festival.

At first, I thought this was a waste of advertising dollars. Why go to the trouble of building an iPhone application that would only be useful for a short period of time? That’s silly, isn’t it?

Well, not really.  There are three excellent reasons for these “disposable” iPhone apps.

1. Usage window

Pinch Media released a report earlier this year revealing statistics they collected from 30 million downloads at the iTunes App Store.  They discovered only 5% of apps were used 3 weeks after they were downloaded (slides 12 & 13). This timing seems like a good match for event marketing. Right?

2. Engagement

Smart phones make up only 12% of the phone market worldwide. However, that small percentage of users generates the majority of engagement in the mobile world.  They are constantly downloading mobile applications, surfing the mobile web, sending emails, snapping photos, recording video, etc.

iPhone users, in particular, are extremely engaged in the mobile experience.

3. Understanding your audience

What if you could discover information about your audience that helped make your product or event better the next time? Did your concert audience enjoy the venue?  What did your convention attendees think of the hotel or the food?  A mobile application can collect that feedback from your audience and help make your product better.

If you compare these to traditional advertising vehicles like TV, radio and newspapers you’ll see why iPhone apps look like a great option for event promotion.  You can build several iPhone apps for the cost of a single minute of TV advertising.  Also, traditional advertising platforms are typically a one-way communication to the audience, while mobile applications offer an easy dialog of feedback and communication.

I’m curious.  Have you or would you ever consider downloading a “disposable iPhone app” for a specific event?  Let me know in the comments.

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2 Responses to Disposable iPhone apps

  1. Bill Shirley says:

    I used one for WWDC (though it didn’t actually show up in the iTunes store, it was AdHoc distributed to ~5000 people, something normally limited to only 100 people) and it was quite useful. It was also using push notifications on everyone’s early 3.0 release software – prodding us to incorporate the new tech.

    When I was at the Houston Press Music Awards Showcase I couldn’t stop thinking they needed an iPhone App. They spent lots of money on lots of graphic design elsewhere. It could bleed over to the app, and the sponsors would likely get a better “click through” than with banners and slide shows.

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