Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the best app of them all?
Well, an app I was unwittingly introduced to at the weekend might take the top spot for men: the charmingly named Gym Babes. It really doesn’t need more explaining than that. Remarkable, how even the most cutting edge mobile technology can be made primitive! Smuttiness aside, there’s an important lesson here: it got shared around a table of 6 people and talked about for at least 10 – maybe even 15 – minutes. A shameful confession maybe, but one that is demonstrative of the iPhone app’s potential as a powerful talkability tool for brands.
From the sublime (Shazam) to the ridiculous (Pull My Finger? Honestly…), to the extremely useful (Flight Tracker is a frequent traveller’s dream), there seems to be an app for just about everything. But like most things in modern life, the choice is overwhelming: there are now more than 60,000 applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Just as we thought we might be getting a bit apped-out, brands are getting in on the act too.
In fact, if you don’t have one, frankly you need to pull your virtual socks up. Audi’s done it, Zippo’s done it – winning the top-spot on iTunes – and now Tesco’s doing it, with their launch of a new free app this week that will enable users to shop on the go. Notice the ‘free’ part.
This week also witnessed a clash of the sport titans when Nike literally followed in Adidas’ footsteps with their training app, Nike+ GPS, hot on the heels of the Adidas mi-coach app release last month. Nike+ GPS allows runners to visually map every run while tracking distance, times, pace and calories burned, all with optional instant feedback from Paula Radcliffe and Lance Armstrong. Pretty cool stuff for £1.19. Adidas’ was free though. So was Tesco’s. It’ll be interesting to see whether this has an effect on whose is more successful.
With 500 million iPhone apps sold since June 2008, their popularity is like a dangling carrot for marketers. But take heed: successful branded apps aren’t aiming to sell – they are engaging, entertaining, useful, or all of the above. And if they are all of those things, they are not perceived as advertising. Then, and only then, will you have yourself a successful branded app.
For what it’s worth, from my humble position as a non-iPhone owner (shocking, I know) I would suggest that Shazam is clearly one of the best apps. A music lover’s electronic dream, it samples any song when you hold it up to a speaker, telling you the name of the artist, track and album. App makers must feel the same pain of nearly every creative around the world when they saw the Old Spice ‘Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ advert for the first time – why oh why didn’t I think of that?!
Incidentally, I discovered that there is in fact a superhero called Shazam too. Rather app-t, don’t you think? (Sorry, couldn’t help myself).