The beauty of mobile is more than just looks

Research by TNS reveals content and apps are rising in importance as the reasons for buying a new mobile phone, but brands must match new social technology with usability and appearance.

Spencer McHugh
Brand director, Orange UK

Apps enhance our customers’ lives. For example, we amplified our sponsorship of Glastonbury with the Orange GlastoNav application, a free mobile download that provides Glastonbury festival-goers with information and stage times for the full line-up. The app allows users to personalise their own artist schedule for the weekend and includes an interactive map of the site.

Such mobile apps are starting to play an increasingly important role in our brand strategy. The mobile phone now serves as a handheld personal computer for organising and enhancing people’s lives, so it’s only going to become more important – which provides a massive opportunity for marketers to capitalise on these trends. The key to communicating and developing this new technology for our customers is to bring to life the personal benefits that it brings, how easy it is to use and showcasing its relevance.

Smartphones are growing in popularity due to the innovative and exciting content and services people can get on these handsets. We have supported this with the recent upgrade of our Orange App Store, which provides access and browsing of more than 5,000 apps, games, ringtones and wallpapers.

Andrew Morley
Vice-president of marketing for Europe, Middle East, Africa, Russia and key Asian markets at Motorola

Apps and content are undeniably important. We are very excited about multitasking mobile devices and have launched eight Android handsets in 20 countries – this year we expect to launch 20 in total.

Consumers are bombarded by lots of different features on their phones, but the key thing they want is flexibility. They want their phone growing with them. This means they want apps that are relevant to different parts of the day or lifestages, such as a babyfeeding or wedding planner app.

Motorola connected the moon landing to earth in 1969. Now we are trying to bring that engineering and innovation to the smartphone. Our Motoblur interface is integral to our strategy. Used on Android phones, it pulls together disparate aspects of your life and
integrates them onto your phone. So, if you looked for your contact “Andrew Morley”, you would get not just a photo but also a Facebook update, a Twitter feed, the latest email correspondence and the LinkedIn web page.

It is person-centric and simplifies things in people’s lives, so it taps into the ease-of-use trend.

Doug Chisholm
Founder of mobile applications publisher Rippll

Apps are key to younger consumers, who expect to be able to interact with web properties from any device. Furthermore, they expect a more integrated experience on a device with a built-in camera and address book. So if an app like Facebook doesn’t do what they expect on one device, they may look to another, especially as increasingly more communication is done on Facebook and Skype than via voice and SMS.

There are huge opportunities for handset manufacturers to capitalise on this hunger by
addressing some of the shortcomings of apps on other devices such as those on the iPhone. If Samsung or Nokia were to work with popular app developers to deliver superior versions for their devices, then consumers would have even more reasons to look beyond the iPhone for apps.

Andrew Warner
Senior marketing director EMEA for Expedia and former marketing director of LG

While it is easy for those of us working in our industry to assume everyone has an iPhone and manages their lives through apps, it is important to remember that the majority of consumers never access online data services through their phones. However, that fact is turned on its head among the under 30-year-olds, the majority of whom now use their handsets to access content.

The paradigm of “ease of use” is shifting. More people now have greater access to devices geared up to their communication needs. Handsets that performed the iPhone’s functions were available long before Apple launched its much-lauded device, but the genius of the iPhone was to bring all of those capabilities together into an intuitive, desirable device that made sophisticated mobile technology accessibleand pleasurable to use.

Brand is still very important. At the base level, consumers still want the reassurance of a brand offering familiarity, reliability, trust and compatibility with accessories and other communication devices. Beyond that, consumers are motivated by their perception of how a particular brand’s devices will perform, will make their lives easier and will fit with their lives both on a functional and emotional level.

Anthony Marsella
Former CMO at Samsung

There is obviously a lot of truth in the survey, but while content and apps are important in a certain community
of users, the look and feel and the brand of the device is still critical.

It would be wrong for people to put in lots of functionality simply for a handset to sell. Apps will become a common trend. They are not going to make a big difference between brand choices because you are going to see them on all the mainstream brands.

The brand and people’s previous experiences of it are the most important factors in driving a mobile phone purchase. Nokia, Apple, Samsung and Sony Ericsson are important and powerful names. There are attributes associated with a brand such as Apple or Samsung and that gets you onto the consumer’s consideration list.

Technology is just one of the factors that determine purchase. Design is key and when you combine it with ease of use and technology, you have a winning product and a competitive advantage.

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