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App Store celebrates first birthday

From the August Zeitgeist…

Apple’s App Store recently celebrated its first anniversary, and not long afterwards crossed a similarly momentous watershed of recording 1.5 billion downloads. With a little calculator work, this turns out to be over 4 million applications every single day, and just under 50 downloaded every second worldwide, for iPhone and iPod touch models, “creating an ecosystem that any technology company would envy” says eConsultancy.

The immense popularity of the App Store is evidence of the current industry shift from focusing on hardware to software. The iPhone, somewhat unexpectedly, became about much more than Apple’s sleek design and functionality, instead incorporating a user generated aspect, allowing the phone to do anything you want it to. In other words, this was customisation as personalisation, making your product bespoke. It has led to the development of some extraordinary applications, from picking a restaurant – perhaps you could look up your nearest Pizza Hut? – to organising your whole night out.

Just as the Internet in its youth has been compared to a Wild West, so it is now with the app store; Apple has to individually approve or deny every app that passes its way, often on a very ad hoc basis (witness recent deliberation over the first pornographic application). This should serve as a warning for any clients that wish to make apps that are controversial or risk making Apple functionality redundant.

Two recent iPhone applications do a great job of illustrating the potential use brands can make of the handset. The first makes use of augmented reality to embed the app’s own graphics onto real-world imagery displayed through the camera. Click here for a video. As VentureBeat explains, “When a user holds the iPhone flat, it shows all 13 lines of the London Underground. Then as you tilt the phone up, the application shows what direction the stops are in and their distance.” The possibilities for combining the iPhone camera with augmented reality could lead to some very engaging campaigns for clients. To see how augmented reality can literally alter the way we see advertising, click here.

Another recently released app is the first to be  integrated with a Blu-ray disc, for the latest incarnation of that bastion of mediocrity, The Fast and the Furious franchise. There is a “Virtual Car Garage” you can control, and integration with Facebook and Twitter that will appear on future films as well (i.e. “Jordi is watching Balto III: Wings of Change”).

Embracing such synthesis of product over multiple platforms offers brands who can provide engaging content the opportunity to increase interaction with consumers.

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