It’s widely recognised that the success of Apple’s iPhone has a lot to do with iTunes and the mammoth number of apps in the App Store. With more than 100,000 apps available across many categories, it seems there’s an app to suit everyone, for every need.
However, despite apps being a legitimate and increasingly powerful distribution channel for content, services and brand experiences, iPhone users are seemingly reluctant to spend a lot of money to access paid apps.
So, can brands charge for their apps?
Apps are gradually being recognised as a new distribution channel for brands, particularly those that can deliver content, or provide access to their services via mobile Internet. Furthermore, many iPhone users are looking for more brands to engage with them via their mobile device, however, not at a cost.
iPhone users are looking for new interactions or ways of dealing with companies anywhere, at anytime, and branded apps provide companies with another opportunity to connect with their customers. But, most brands cannot charge for access to their own distribution channels, or for content that is not unique – why pay to access something that can be obtained elsewhere for free?
There will, of course, be exceptions, particularly when a branded app can be a primary distribution channel for unique content or intellectual property, and/or the experience has significant benefits and value to the consumer. Although, at this point in time, consumer brands are yet to fully explore how they can become part of their customers’ lives via owning app territory on their customers’ Smartphone.