What does the future hold for smartphone mobile apps?

Smartphones have become lifestyle tools. The perfect marriage of entertainment and utility. I find myself leaving my laptop behind for greater spans of time as I head out to business meetings and functions with only my iPhone. As more capability is added to smartphones in terms of storage, bandwidth, built-in functionality and now third party apps, it seems that we are limited only by our imagination.

With over 35,000 apps in the iPhone App Store and over 1 billion downloads, Apple’s doing a great job of whetting everyone’s appetite with their marketing efforts and out-of-the-gate success. There’s strong consumer migration towards web-capable handsets. We see about 90% of the smartphone content on Blackberry and iPhone platforms. Blackberry and Android recently opened their apps stores and Nokia’s slated for a summer launch of their Ovi Store. To date, the Blackberry and Android stores are significantly underserved in terms of quality apps/content providers. Blackberry’s user base is considerable, at nearly 50% of the smartphone market, so we anticipate a lot of developer participation in that space. Android’s open source appeal will draw developer interest as well, but the pace will correlate with the available handsets that use the Android platform. Currently, in the US, only T-Mobile’s G1 uses Android.

As companies benefit from the monetization of their apps, word will spread about their success stories. There’s a handset war going on providing increasingly attractive price points for consumers migrating to smartphones. Apple’s likely to announce a new handset at a lower price point ($99 is the word on the street) and their launch of OS 3.0 this summer will include over 100 new features. Perhaps the most important game-changer is the forthcoming In-App purchase capability. This opens the door for visually rich online catalog storefronts for companies of all sizes. Advertising supported content will become a common revenue model for apps. You’ve probably already noticed the growing number of creative interactive ads. Sophisticated targeting capabilities and low-cost customer acquisition is attracting advertisers.

Mobile apps analytics dashboards, complete with graphics, provide information about how your users are interacting with your application, how much time are they spending and reveals your audience likes and dislikes.  Businesses can track the success of their mobile goals and ensure a measurable return on investment.

Companies that truly understand their audience segments, define a mobile strategy, execute well and act upon analytics results are in the best position to capitalize on the benefits and explosive growth of smartphone apps. Stay tuned; we’re in for a wild ride!

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Tim CascioTim Cascio is the author of the Mobile Marketing, Monetization and Methods blog, Co-Founder/Co-Chair of the Mobile Visionary Roundtable at the Illinois Technology Association and Sr. Digital Strategist at Bader Rutter & Associates, an award-winning integrated marketing services agency that specializes in advertising, public relations, brand asset management, relationship marketing and digital solutions. Tim is @timcascio on Twitter and can be reached in the United States at 262-938-5543.

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