A Smarter Smartphone

22 06 2012

When the iPhone was introduced in July 2007, everyone was in agreement that it signaled a paradigm shift. A new way of doing old things. A new way of doing new things. And a convergence of a whole lot in the process.

The only problem was that no one was exactly sure how it would be used, including Steve Jobs. It was a grand experiment, a noble product launch that, in true Apple fashion, addressed needs we did not know we had.

As it turns out, two of the most popular uses of the iPhone (and most other smartphones, for that matter) have been mapping and photographs. In the former, uses include GPS, mapping and directions, and basic trolling for general types of places (trying entering “Mexican food in your map app and see what happens). In the latter, it includes everything from taking the pic to editing and sharing it, by email, social media or SMS.

Oddly enough, Apple has utilized a Google-based mapping application, which is kind of like pre-loading a MacBook Pro with Microsoft Office. But tomorrow, this will all start to change when Apple is predicted to announce both new mapping and photo-sharing features with the upcoming iOS 6.0.

And it makes good sense, since these are two hotly contested applications on our phones. We have done away with our Garmins and TomToms, and in other case, quit carrying heavy and expensive cameras. Our phones can do it all. It just makes sense for Apple to ditch arch-rival Google and offer an improved mapping interface, especially when Google is also upping the ante with its own maps on Android phones.

As for photos, I for one never saw it coming. While I am an avid amateur photographer with nice gear, I still use my iPhone to shoot things. Lots of things. OK, almost 5000 things.

But here is the big take-away: mapping and photography are inexplicably intertwined, and everyone has been leaving advertising revenue on the table. Sure, Google has sold some minor mentions in its map app (like when you look for a Red Robin but instead get a pin for an Applebees). But this is small potatoes.

Recall that our smartphones are GPS-based. The map app needs location services turned on in order to work. And we geo-tag our pictures without even knowing it (on your iPhone, while looking at your Camera Roll, tap “Places” at the bottom to see what I mean).

OK, so why don’t Apple and Google start selling location-based ads for their phones? Imagine opening up your map app, and, after typing Red Robin, receiving not only a map with directions, but also a coupon. Or, for that matter, when you shoot and share a pic within proximity of, say, Abuelo’s, getting a Happy Hour reminder and promo?

Yeah, now you have it. They really have left ad money on the table.

Before everyone excoriates me for opening the door to ever more advertising, allow me to remind you that I am the marketer here, and it is my job to show my students how to make money. There. Absolved from all wrong-doing and sin with one pithy little statement. Don’t you just love pith?

I am excited to see Apple and Google ever refining our smartphone operating systems, as well as features. Look how far we have come in just five years. And try to imagine a life in which you did not have your handy little portable brain in your pocket or purse. Good luck there.

As this refining continues, we need to expect not only improved services, but also more precision marketing aimed specifically at an audience of one. Yes, that would be you. And me.


“Hello? Oh, just a sec.”

I think it’s for you.

Dr “Map My Life” Gerlich



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