The annual arrival of a new Apple iPhone is always welcomed with much speculation, fanfare and media attention. New features and capabilities, design and expected sales are rumored and discussed online ad nauseum. Once released, expect an avalanche of unboxings, hands-on reviews and complaints, the usual.
But I don’t want to talk about any of that; it’s already overkill. What I do want to talk about now that the iPhone 5 has officially been announced, are what impacts the new phone may have to search marketers and small business owners. At quick glance, you might not think very much. But, there are a few items worth looking at.
*Some of these are really iOS 6 updates, but the iPhone 5 will be the first device to run iOS 6 out of the box, and iOS 6 will be available for iPhone 3GS, 4, and 4S (as well as fourth-gen iPod touch and the most recent iPad).
The Exclusion of Google Maps as Native Map App
Apple kicked out Google Maps as their native map application for iOS 6, replacing it with their own mapping app. Users should still be able to download a Google Maps app separately, but I would imagine most people will not notice much of a difference and use the Apple app exclusively. Apple also claimed to have over 100 million locations opposed to Google’s recent claim of 80 million. If users are aware that Apple contains more locations in their app, they may decide not to switch back to Google. However, Apple won’t have public transit data available, which could have people going back to the Google app. Time will tell, but I anticipate Apple adding this data in the near future.
So why does this matter? For one, Apple will be getting their business listing information from Axciom (and a few others), instead of Google. For search marketers and small businesses, having your information updated and correct in Axciom and other online yellow page directories will be crucial. Nothing ruins your brand like an incorrect address or phone number, or even worse; having no listing at all.
Additionally, Apple is using Yelp to populate ratings and reviews for locations (more on Yelp in a bit). If you’re a business of any kind with a physical location, I am convinced you need to have an accurate and updated presence on Yelp. People can argue about the merits of Yelp reviews, but the fact is millions of people trust the site for reviews. Reviews can make or break restaurants, and integration into various mobile apps is making Yelp a can’t-miss.
Additional Siri Usage and Capabilities
Siri has been improved, adding all sorts of new capabilities, but the one restaurants in particular should keep an eye on is the ability to make reservations via Open Table on Siri. If you’re a restaurant that takes reservations, you should probably be integrated with Open Table by now, but if not, this should get you over the hump. Siri will pull information about your restaurant from Open Table when the user attempts to make a reservation. Make sure that information is accurate.
Back to Yelp – if you’re asking Siri about nearby places to eat or to find a car wash, Siri will search through Yelp and return ratings and reviews to help you make a decision. This is where having reviews, and quality reviews on Yelp will be beneficial. Most likely, these users are mobile and will settle on a decision very quickly, so you’ll need to have an accurate and updated profile, attractive photos of your location and your product or service, and favorable reviews. None of what I’m saying is particularly new; it’s just more important than ever.
More Momentum Towards Adoption of Mobile Wallet
Passbook is a new native app included in iOS 6 providing a mobile solution for various gift cards, loyalty programs and even boarding passes. It’s not quite a full mobile wallet that connects to your credit and debit accounts and allows full payment solutions, BUT it’s going to help push the masses into similar behaviors, such as using a phone to pay with gift cards.
The implications here should be obvious; if you’re a retail business or have clients with point of sale locations, consumers are going to start demanding alternative payment solutions. We’re seeing similar solutions pop up, like rewards app Belly, and mobile payment app LevelUp. Adoption is not widespread yet, but both are gaining traction and investment. While cash is always great, and physical cards aren’t going anywhere, businesses will need to become tech savvy enough to implement some sort of mobile payment option in the coming years. The amount of customer analytics and targeted marketing potential for retailers is huge and should help convince business owners to adapt.
More Smartphone Users
Despite everything I just rambled off, more than half of the US population still don’t have smartphones. But this group will continue to get smaller and smaller as smartphone penetration continues. Apple also announced consumers can get the iPhone 4 FOR FREE with a two year contract through a carrier. This could be huge in getting people into smartphones that have resisted thus far. More smartphone users mean more of everything I mentioned above, and also means more mobile searches, mobile visits to your websites, etc.
The writing has been on the wall for some time now, but with each new phone and operating system released that adds new functionality and convenience, mobile continues to grow in usage and importance to businesses of all sizes. There’s still time to adapt and catch the mobile wave, but it’s time to get going.